I’ve spent since February 14 battling three major illnesses in my house: RSV, influenza and bronchitis.
I’ve had a chance to reflect during this time and one thing I am so certain of is that there are some things in life that money just can’t buy but time makes an acceptable method of payment. I’m no stranger to sacrificing for the sake of my children and I’m not one of those mothers who spends a lot of time bemoaning those sacrifices. There will be no songs penned along the lines of Pastor Shirley Caesar’s “No Charge” over here. It’s all par for the course. But I will say that decisions that I’m now having to make as the mother of two preschoolers are changing.
While spending these past few weeks nursing my children back to health, I’ve had the pleasure of observing my them more closely and hearing their thoughts. One of the hardest subjects that came up recently was death. How in the WORLD do you articulate the meaning of death to a 3 & 4 year old respectively? And quite frankly, who wants to? Who wants to see the joy leave their eyes as you try to explain that someone closes their eyes, stops moving, goes away, and you don’t see or talk to them anymore?
What a terrible, ugly, painful thing to have to explain for the first time to children.
I hate it.
I was six years old when she passed away. I can vaguely remember my parents recounting the events to me. Something about she went downstairs during bible study… she collapsed. She wouldn’t be coming back. She died. I remember going to school and telling my teacher that she passed away. I can remember staring out my school bus window looking out into a world that looked and felt gray. I felt a pain that was foreign to me. Someone I loved had died.
I remember my mama coming into the room that my sister and I shared, trying to comfort us. She explained to me that “Sister Choice”, as we called her, was sleeping in paradise. I can remember imagining her dressed in white, laying in the midst of a field of endless flowers, asleep…peaceful…resting. And I can remember going to the funeral home and seeing faces that had always smiled at me before, weeping, tear stained… in pain. I remember seeing her in her casket from a distance. My mama asked me did I want to see her. I couldn’t go look. I didn’t want to. This foreign pain was too much. The woman I loved was suddenly a source of fear to me. I wanted to get away from her lifeless body…but I wanted her to come back. I can remember the first Sunday after her funeral, sitting on her pew.. left hand side of the church, second pew. Every time the door opened, I turned and looked back, waiting for her to come. I looked in the choir stand at more tear stained faces. I can remember sitting in her seat, somehow comforted by the familiarity of being where she once sat. I don’t remember when it finally dawned on me that she wouldn’t come back. She wouldn’t hold me anymore and give me candy. She wouldn’t be there to comfort me when I cried and let me lay on her lap all service long. She was asleep on a bed of flowers in paradise. She was ok, sleeping.
Fast forward 27 yrs later and I find myself having to explain death to two delightfully beautiful children who I don’t want to hurt or ever see cry in sorrow.
But sorrow is what this world is full of.
It will come.
I know they don’t quite understand it all but just the simple fact that they wanted to know what death meant and listened intently as I tried to explain it in the simplest of terms was bad enough.
I’m so glad I know Jesus!
If it wasn’t for the hope of the Gospel, this life really would be worthless and without meaning. When you think about all the precious people we’ve lost and will lose over our lifetimes, how would we ever survive or gather the strength to face another day with not only hope but JOY if it wasn’t for the Gospel of Jesus Christ?I look forward to the day when I can explain to them that because of Jesus Christ, the sting of death has been removed and when it’s mommy’s time to go, they need not worry or fear. The same God whose presence I will stand before will comfort and guide them as He guided me. That right there brings so much joy to me.
He didn’t leave us comfortless!
There will be many more tough topics for me to tackle, This is only the beginning.
But the blessed assurance that I have is that the same God who comforted and 6 yr old little girl through her first loss is the SAME God who will meet the now 33 yr old woman and her two children and carry them through whatever comes.
If Sis. Edith could see me now, I believe that she would smile first at how tall I am, and of course, admire all of my minor accomplishments in life. But most of all, she would rejoice to know that the God that she served became my Savior just one year after her death and He still is. She would be thankful that I held on through my doubts, fears and failures and trusted the God she worshipped. Though I only had her in my life for 6 years, she would be delighted to see that the love she sowed grew and the mother I am today is in large part because of the motherly love she deposited into me: the patience, compassion, respect and grace. It didn’t fall on deaf little ears but it took root and I’m the woman that I am today because of her great legacy of love. If she were here today, she would tell me to keep going, even when it gets hard. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
He holds our world in His hands…
And He won’t let go,