I distinctly remember when the grieving started. I had just spent 7 exhausting days in Montana. The details are a complete blur, but I remember they included doctor visits, phone calls, late night conversations, family meetings, and a confirmed diagnosis of dementia for my mom. I tried to stay calm and level headed during those crazy days, but once I stepped on to the plane to head back to our Canadian home, reality hit.
I had 3 flights that day. Each time a plane took off, I’d lean my head against the cool pane of the window and the tears would start. I tried to be as discreet as possible, but I pitied the poor men who had to sit by this sobbing woman.
It was the first time I said good-bye to my mom.
In fact, I greeted my waiting husband with sobs and the words, “She’s gone.”
He was horrified thinking she had died, but through gulping breaths I tried to explain that ~ although she was still physically with us ~ the “Mom” we had known all our lives no longer was.
I grieved hard that day and in the days to follow. That was years ago.
Grief is an interesting thing. Most days I accept mom’s condition with calm acceptance. Other days, the pain feels like a hot searing fire that burns out a little chunk of my heart. The waves ebb and flow.
The last time I saw mom, my twinkly eyed husband coaxed out this precious smile from her.
It’s the way I’ve been picturing her for the last year and 1/2. (Have I mentioned we live a LONG way away from my mom?)
My siblings have recently called to inform me that her health is further declining. I’ve been shocked by the pain this new reality has brought. I thought I was prepared for this…
The other day, I was searching for a picture for a friend. As I turned page after page in our photo albums, I kept seeing this precious face smiling at me.
Mom. So many memories of our family have her in the picture.
She was here to help me when each of our babies were born. She’d bathe them and coo and talk until their cute little baby lips curled into a smile.
But what she really loved to do was rock them to sleep. She rocked and rocked and all the while sang this lullaby,
“Let’s talk about Jesus…
the King of Kings is He…”
The song went on and on ~ weaving one hymn into the next. I’m pretty sure she made up this medley of tunes all on her own ~ carefully honed and perfected while she rocked her own 5 kids to sleep over the years.
It was long and sung at an increasingly slower pace as the words went on and on ~ the perfect recipe to send a fussy baby into the dreamy slumber of sleep.
I was thinking about Mom’s lullaby last night as I tried in vain to sleep. As it played through my mind, I came to one of the final songs,
“This world is not my home
I’m just a’ passin’ through
my treasures are laid up
somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me on Heaven’s open shore
and I don’t feel at home
in this world anymore.”
It’s a strange thing, really. I’m a middle-aged woman, but the truth is, I still want my mom.
There is still some strange security knowing that she is still present.
I feel so sad when well meaning people tell me “It would be so much better if she would just go.” My head agrees. My heart does not.
And, yet, I know deep down in my soul that in Heaven she’ll be able to laugh and talk and be whole again. She’ll be Home.
That’s the beautiful hope.
As I cruised through the photo albums with tears streaming down my face, I turned a page and found this picture:
And, I laughed. I have no idea what was going on, but I’m grateful my husband caught it on film.
The gift of laughter. My mom loved to laugh. In fact, it was one of my most precious gifts from her. No matter how difficult the situation or sober the occasion, somewhere along the way, she’d help me to find laughter again.
Thanks, Mom. I’m looking forward to the day when I can laugh with you again…