The season of loss didn’t seem to have an end. My mother died at home on December 20, 1991. Her cancer progressed quickly. She was in a hospital bed in our living room for the last nine days of her life.
I lay there in her bed with her as she was dying. I wanted to be close to her. I wanted to take death away. If only…
At twenty-one, there was only so much I could know about life and death, only so much I could fathom. Two years before, my Mimi, my mom’s mom, died. I remember being thankful that there was a natural order to their deaths, mother before daughter. But if I followed that line of thinking, then I would be next.
I panicked thinking I don’t want to feel lonely when I die.
That dreaded feeling of being alone.
I never understood how loneliness could take over your whole body. In your mind there is this echo, of your own voice because nobody is listening. Your eyes seek frantically but find nothing, no one. What do you do with your hands if you are by yourself? Where do you put them? I pour emotion out while I talk, and I have been known to wave my arms around in the process. When there’s no one to witness the heart behind the words, then it’s your soul that echoes.
I can see the EMT’s preparing to take my mother away forever. Zzzzzip was the last sound.
That’s it? It’s over? Forty years, two kids, one failed marriage and a whole bunch of nights she spent with alcohol…done.
Struggling and stumbling through life and loneliness…then out of the clear blue sky, my father died suddenly December 15, 2005. Another life related to me, not fully lived, gone. The dull weight, the deep well of grief swallowed me.
And people who meet me now wonder how I was hopeless without God.
Without hope of eternal life. Without hope of true, life-giving love. Without hope of ever defeating the loneliness.
When you go through life without hope, it is like dressing up to be the star of your own play, the romantic quest of a better life. And it is like surviving a grueling storm that you’re never quite prepared for. It hits you in the blackest of night or sometimes while the sun is shining directly in your eyes. Either way it renders you helpless. Without help. Without hope. Without love.
It is Truth that God had plans for me, though if anyone tried to tell me prior to age forty, I counted them a religious freak or downright nosy…how could anyone know what I was going through if I didn’t even know myself?
I can look back and see His Truth because He made me tenacious. I did not lie down and let the world happen to me. Yes, I adopted a victim’s worldview at points, but I kept plodding. I kept pushing back at the constant crap life was throwing at me.
So here I am. I am not as proud of being a survivor as I used to be. When you live without hope of anything better, surviving the crap is where your finish line is, your benchmark. The problem with that is life’s challenges are never done, and with what joy can one merely survive?
Now I have two feet planted in Christ. That’s where my joy lives. No matter what happens around me, my identity is firm.
My hand squeezes His hand tightly some days, when an old fear beckons. My eyes no longer wander, darting here and there to look for something, anything to feed my soul. I look up to the One who created me, who gave me to my mom and my dad, and then who took them away. I look up to the One who takes all the misplaced weight off my shoulders and promises that He will use my pain for His good. I look up to feel the Love I had never known until a few short years ago. It still overwhelms me, and I hope it continues to do so. It’s so big and so real.
When my number one enemy wants to lead me down the road labeled, “How come you didn’t figure this out earlier?”
I say, “Back off. Beat it. Go find some pigs or something cuz you don’t own me anymore.”
I belong to Jesus, and He belongs to me…now and forever.
***This is a hard time of year to lose someone you love. Keep the hope and love of Jesus close. I would love to hear your thoughts about this post. Please share if you know others. Blessings, Julie