My mother (who I always thought looked like a movie star!) suffered repeated TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, or “mini strokes”)1 and lost her sight, hearing, reasoning and ability to talk. I hated what was happening to her. Then that dreaded call: “She’s dying. Come.” On Mother’s fourth night at the hospital, my daughter, Lynnette, joined me.
Aunt Aileen & Mom as she was losing her sight
“I wonder if Aunt Aileen will run to meet Grandma,” said Lynnette.Mother and Aileen, who died previous year, loved being sisters. While we chatted about heaven, mom’s breathing turned more erratic. We watched her leave us. Kissing her cheek, I whispered, “This is Joanie, Mom. I love you. Tell Jesus hi for me.” (For years, she had asked me to say hi to my friends each time I left the house.) Stroking her thinning white hair, I recalled how, as a child, I had combed her thick black locks. Lynnette wiped the lips that had often whispered, “Honey, you’re special.”
Death’s messiness didn’t terrify us as we imagined it would. Still, for weeks I tried to make sense of my emotions. Happy because life’s disappointment and anger didn’t matter to Mom anymore, I questioned the sad injustice of her disease and death too soon. One day God reassured me, “Joan, in that sterile hospital room, I sent angels to carry your mother to her Savior. You stood on holy ground” (see Acts 7:33).
Mom’s debilitating disease, premature death and my own struggle with grief remind me of my flawed reality. Yet on this Mother’s Day 2010, God’s hope guarantees me life beyond the inequity and loss I feel.*
What loss are you feeling this Mother’s Day season? What hope have you found?
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.