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Just Three Things

“Remembering without ceasing you work in faith, and labour in love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…”~I Thessalonians 1:3

February 21, 2020 will be a day I will never forget.
There is really no other way to put it. What do you do with the days you hear the news, get the call, watching in horror as it all plays out? You say you will never forget it.

I had just arrived at church for a girls 90’s sleepover party. I think the 3 adult ladies that were in charge were way more excited than the teen girls were because lets face it, the 90’s were fun! We had our scrunches, fanny packs, and chokers all ready to go. The night was to be fun and loud and late.

My mom’s face popped up on my phone as I was welcoming the teenagers into the building. It was rare for her to call on a Friday night. But this night I was waiting to hear from her. She had an appointment with the doctor earlier and I wanted to hear how it went. It wasn’t a routine appointment, but still, I was not prepared to get the news I was about to receive.

Cancer.

You know when you have a gut feeling about something and when you find it to be true your reaction is one of pride and almost arrogance? Perhaps the words, “I told you so!” come pouring out of your mouth. I knew it. I knew she had cancer. I had felt it deep inside. But pride was not what I felt. Nor arrogance. Other things come to mind. Devastation. Fear. Panic.

The following weeks were a whirlwind.

I brought the girls up to NY with me that Sunday. It seemed obvious that there was nowhere else I really should be. My mother agreed, though hesitantly. Peter agreed. And my brother agreed.

There were tests, appointments, phone calls, pharmacy runs, and all around busyness.
It felt all so familiar, and yet so foreign.
Terminology was recognizable. I had done this before, almost 6 years ago. However, in a way, this was completely different. There was more of a plan, a path that we were going to take. More time was given; more options seemed available.

Still, what really came to be was less time, more pain, and an empty bed where she once lay, all in 7 weeks and 2 days.

I will be honest, I haven’t fully grasped these last 2 months yet. I imagine I will be processing this, along with many others, for a good long time. Covid-19 made life so much more difficult during this time. As one nurse told me, “This is the worst time to die.”

I find myself grasping at straws so that I don’t drown in my own grief and confusion. I need to find something to hold on to so that it all makes sense.

I have just recently found comfort in the verse above from I Thessalonians 1:3.

I need to remember.
Exactly what I remember is not always pleasant. Those last moments, the hours of pain, the days of silence because she could no longer talk to me, those are all the things I wish not to remember. And I whole heartily believe that is not what God desires for me to remember.

But here, He speaks to me. He tells me to remember these 3 things.

1. Work of faith
My mom had great faith that all of this was going to have an end with meaning. But it didn’t come naturally. She had to work on it, especially on the days that she felt pain, fear, and confusion since things were changing so quickly.
My faith was brought by heavy work that looked like nights lying in bed begging God to do something, anything, that resembled a miracle. The sweat and tears shed as I poured myself over Psalm 23, searching for God to show up and reveal Himself in this mess. Working together, as a family, to trust that God was going to see us through another heartache that we were not yet ready to bear.

2. Labour of love
This one came easy to my mom. She constantly loved by making sure that everyone knew they were seen, heard, and taken care of. She passed that onto me, because I found great joy in caring for her, waiting on her, giving medications, cleaning up the kitchen, brushing her hair. The hard work, or so it was called, seemed to help me express the great love I already felt for this amazing woman.
Along with this, I felt God’s love working day and night to surround me and my family. He showed up in the kind words of others. His love sang me songs in the car as I drove back to my temporary home after a long day. His love wrapped around me at the darkest hour, when I felt I could not take watching one more person I loved, die.

3. Patience of hope
My mother had this hope. She knew heaven was on the horizon and though she didn’t quite feel ready to leave us, she knew she would soon see Molly and more important, her Savior soon. As for me, I am still working on the patience part of this. Hope I get. I know I have hope in Christ. Hope in Heaven. Hope in reunions. Hope is forevers. But waiting for it seems too much to bear some days. It has not even been 2 weeks since mom left us, and I already cannot believe I need to be without her here on earth for so long. I find myself getting antsy for reunions, no more pain, and no more tears.
As always though, Christ shows up and reminds me this life is but a moment. And before we know it, we will be together again, for an eternity, laughing, rejoicing, and probably still being bossed around by Molly. (Some things never change.)

This is all I can hold on to for right now.
And this has been the first time in 9 weeks I have been honest with myself. When we face our emotions, or at least when I do, I feel as if I could melt into a puddle and never solidify again. But in order to heal and move on, we must acknowledge.

So here I am saying all I know to say.

She is gone. Not forever. But for now. And it hurts tremendously.

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