Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Facing the Inevitable


My son’s godmother texted me at 4:15 Monday morning and wrote, “My mom passed.”

“My mom passed.”

Three words, three simple, monosyllabic words that blew her world apart.

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I don’t know the exact cause of death. I don’t know when or how my dear friend was told the news. But I do know her mom passed and nothing will be the same in her world again. Ever.

Death, though an appointment we all must keep, is always shocking. Even if the person had struggled off and on with an illness, as was the case with my friend’s mother, we never see death coming.

Is it because we’ve watched too many movies where the soon-to-be-departed reaches for her loved one’s hand to whisper final thoughts before leaving this world for the next?

Is it because we think we will have had enough time before she leaves? That we’ll get to say, do, and hear everything we wanted before the sun forever sets on her time on earth?

Or is it that the act of living prevents us from focusing too much on the unpredictable end? That in order to take care of our life’s business, we cannot live as if today were our last day, as the saying goes, but as if it were the first of many?

My mother is sixty years young and in great health, but since my childhood, I have feared losing her. I understand the futility of fear, that it has no natural authority in the life of a Christian. Yet on occasion, when no one is home, I imagine she’s gone, that I have seen her for the last time this side of heaven.

And I cry my eyes out.

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As macabre (and insane) as that drill may be, I know it does not compare to the real thing, that it cannot prepare me for what I will feel when my Marmee actually passes.

But the exercise helps me somehow, so I do it anyway.

I have friends who have lost a parent, many to the menace of cancer but some without any warning. I see them on Facebook posting pictures, liking statuses, and moving forward. And as I pray for their continued comfort and endurance, I also marvel at their strength. Yes, I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but there are some things I dread needing the strength to do.

Things like what my son’s godmother has to do.

I left her a voicemail and sent a text, understanding she might be hard to reach for a while. I prayed for her of course, which is the best thing I could do, but I long to wrap her up in love and squeeze out some of her suffering. I hoped she would easily make the arrangements to fly home and do whatever else needs to be done, that the way would be plain and straight. And as I share this with you, I wonder if anyone anywhere on earth will ever be prepared to receive the news she received Monday morning.

The answer sobers me, filling me with empathy and a palpable urge to call my mother.

Excuse me while I dial.

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