It was a year ago today.
August 12th, 2015.
I remember walking the fluorescent corridors of the hospital making my way towards my mom’s room. Her friends lining the path with reverent postures and bowed heads. It was clear that my mom had passed away.
I wasn’t with her because I had been down in the chapel with a few of my friends praying. There is a twinge of regret not being there by her side, but honestly, she didn’t want any of us in there with her. A friend’s mom wrote this to me recently and I believe it to be true.
“It’s so like a mom to go when no one is there. I think our love for our people ties us so completely to this earth. Our love for our people is our heaven on earth – so that makes so much sense.”
Moms give their lives away to their family. My mom gave her life away to us. Her heaven on earth was demonstrating the love of God through her love towards others. Us not being in the room seemingly allowed her to leave on her terms, and like a typical mom, not put any burden on us in the process.
I miss her. I miss her so much. There is not a day that has passed over the last 365 days where I haven’t thought about my mom, even if just for a moment.
There are days that I miss her so terribly that it physically hurts.
There are days the hollowness inside of me feels so cavernous that one could never reach the bottom.
There are days that I fear I won’t remember enough of who she was and that she’ll slip from my memory.
I was at a funeral recently and thought I was going to be fine. Actually, I didn’t think about it all because I wanted to be there for my friend. However, as soon as the ceremony started emotion overtook me. I’m a stereotypical man though so I stiffened up, stuffed the emotion down – which is what every counselor will tell you… to never do – and then titled my head back as if I was balancing something on my head to keep the tears from rolling out of my eyes that had already welled up. I’m sure I looked completely ridiculous.
I write all these rambling reflections to say that I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel. I believe it’s that way because there is no blueprint for grief. It’s a living, breathing map that is unique for each person. A map that only has the terrain of where you have walked previously, but blank on the landscape you are headed towards. It’s that way because the landscape of grief is ever shifting before we solidify it with a step forward.
Now, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say or feel, or how to navigate the process that grief brings, but I can tell you a few things that I know to be true.
Death doesn’t have the final word. Death, as devastating as it is, has no power over you if you know Jesus. In Christ, we can look at death and ask it with divine confidence where its victory and sting have gone.
The apostle Paul refers to this as a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51). The mystery that in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, the dead shall be raised imperishable.
Not only is it a mystery, but there is a great victory at the hands of our Savior. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality we can say that death has been swallowed up in victory. For we know that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
My mom is in heaven cancer free, pain free and sin free just partying it up with the great cloud of witnesses. As I’ve always written, I can’t wait to join her at the Eastern gate. She owes me a salsa dance and a trip to New York that I promised I would take her on that I never got the chance to do.
So what do we do now? Those of us on this side of eternity. Those of us still marred in sin, brokenness and imperfections.
Paul gives us the answer after painting for us the beauty of the mystery and victory of Christ over death –
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58).
We must be steadfast, immovable and abounding in the work of the Lord. Steadfast and standing firm in our belief in the gospel. Immovable from our hope that Christ has been victorious and we shall be raised incorruptible and immortal. Abounding in the work of the Lord by loving the world around us by demonstrating and declaring the great news of Jesus.
So when death comes your way and I promise it will. Grieve. It’s sad. It’s the result of the fallen nature of man. Yet, don’t grieve as those without hope. Stare death in the face full of faith and triumphant joy knowing that a great victory has already been won for you.
The grieving in this life is but momentary my friends. It’s preparing an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison for you. Be hopeful.
So today, I miss my mom immensely, but I don’t grieve without hope. I’m going to go out and live steadfast, immovable and abound in kingdom work. You should too. However, soon and very soon, death will come for me. I will not be caught off guard though, but I will be ready for him whether he comes today or in 60 years. I’ll be excited to join my mom and all the saints before her.
We’ll see each other. Hug. Cry. Laugh. Then sit down for a heavenly margarita (can I get an amen?) and celebrate the night away, including that dance she owes me.
Love and miss you mama.