This is my Mom a year ago today. April 19th is her birthday and she would have been 67. Instead she is a month and a day old in eternity…though in eternity I’m sure there is no time, no clocks, no calendar. I wonder today if someone noted that on earth it would have been her special day. Did my sweet Grandma wish her a happy birthday and bake her a cherry chip cake in the kitchens of heaven? What is it like? My heart feels homesick for heaven and eternity because I know that there is a growing party awaiting me there with hugs and reunions that will never come to an end. No more death or sickness or cancer. No more longing.
Scripture talks about how God has “placed eternity in the heart of every man”. It’s true. With every loss I have experienced in 40 years of living, that longing for eternity grows bigger. For it is not an empty place, a distant speck inside my soul, but a growing part etched with names and faces tied to my very essence. They have helped to make me…”me”. People I have loved, watched, looked up to and learned from. Babies I never chanced to name or even hold. A whole group of people who helped to fashion my upbringing by passing down my heritage. This is what continually draws my focus heavenward and causes me to yearn.
When this picture was taken a year ago, my Mom had turned down a new path in her journey with this disease. I remember she sat in this chair the entire evening and really tried to put on a happy face even though she felt terrible. I had to bring her birthday cake to her to blow out the candles, because the effort to come to the table was too much. My heart had begun to ache for her about this time because I knew this was different. This wasn’t a path we had walked before; it had been altered and was very decided. It wasn’t the wide road filled with drug options, hope filled verdicts and dropping tumor markers after rounds of chemo. This was a narrow trail, uphill and rugged and I felt like I could no longer walk beside her but only shout encouragement from a parallel and distant road. When she would stumble, fall and dashed hopes were bloodied knees, I could only watch with outstretched hands that seemingly hit a glass wall before I could ever actually touch her.
It was on this path, alone and watching that that I began to learn to test-drive my faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1) There is a small chasm between hope and faith. I think for so long I had “hoped” in God and in the outcome for Mom. But when we hit this road something else changed and faith was added to my hope as it was all I had left. Amazingly, the outcome was an unexplainable peace. Faith is actually being able to let go, to rest. That sounds so petty and simple but it was profound. When all “hope” becomes lost faith can keep holding you up. Not faith in self or providence, but in Christ alone. He is the rock that you can stand on. He doesn’t shift, shake or move. This rock provides great shade in the heat of battle and clefts in the rock when you need to sit a spell. He is above all and in all. He holds all things together by his word and he knows the ending at the very beginning. He is relentless with his love and he walks the lonely path with you. He never leaves or forsakes. He is merciful and doesn’t give us what we deserve. He deserves all that I can give him and at the very least my praise. Mom would say “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” I am not angry with Him for what happened with Mom. He is the answer to every question mark in my mind. He cares more for my character than my comfort and that humbles me.
This last year I saw Mom grow more in her reliance on God and in letting Him increase as she decreased. That is something I can only hope to attain as I walk my seemingly charmed existence when compared to hers. To have a simple outlook of whatever He wills, then that I will accept. If I can learn that one life lesson from her and pass it on to my children, then it will eventually come full circle as our paths cross again when it’s my turn to go Home. When I one day walk again with her…
Happy Birthday, sweet Mom. How I miss you.