Her eyes welled up with tears as she recounted visiting with my mom. “I don’t see how you do it.” My own eyes, remarkably dry, observed her pain. A feeling of guilt stabbed at me. Why are my eyes dry? Why am I feeling “okay” when clearly I should totally not be okay?
On the drive home I could only come to one conclusion. The ball is going to drop sometime. A torrent of emotions that has up until now just trickled will overwhelm me. I won’t know when but it will come.
Prepare. You must prepare. The thoughts pounded uninvited. The logical voice told me there’s no way to prepare for the death of your mom, but the go-getter in me thought otherwise. I’d call my mom’s hospice nurse to find out exactly what’s going on with some of her latest symptoms. Could these symptoms foretell what to expect in the next days or weeks? If so, then I just had to know. To prepare myself.
I’d also ask my Facebook friends who’ve lost a parent to give me their advice. What golden nuggets could they offer? What words besides, “cherish every moment” could they provide? I was sure, by gleaning the wisdom from the roads they walked before mine, I could better prepare.
Voice of Truth
Why do you need to prepare, Jill? An uninvited thought, but this voice I recognized. My determination to do all I could to prepare came to a screeching halt as I allowed the voice of my Father to penetrate my spirit.
The words of a family member echoed, “I can tell by how you write that you are living in the grace of God, every hour, minute, second of the day.”
Was it possible, then, that this unexplainable strength was simply that God was carrying me? That His grace was sustaining me?
Why now, did I feel the need to frantically prepare? God had proven faithful thus far. His strength truly was undeniable. Yes, I’m sure torrents of grief will come flooding toward me, but God’s grace will sustain me even then.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34).
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
There is a place for preparation, but in this case, I knew my quest to prepare exposed a blip in my faith. My Father is trying to teach me through this dark season, to trust Him. For every day. For every concern.
I didn’t call the hospice nurse. I didn’t ask for advice from friends about what I might face. Instead, I rested, trusting each moment, each day, to God, no matter what comes.
A Sweet Confirmation
As God often does, he so sweetly confirmed this decision. One of my recurring worries about my mom’s home going is my 5-year-old daughter. I had told my 9-year-old son about his Meme, and he has been able to process it and prepare for it as well as he can, like the rest of us. But I hadn’t felt right about telling Alyssa. I didn’t think her maturity would know how to handle it, to process it like Drew did. Still, I feared she’d feel shocked and blindsided. There didn’t seem to be a solution.
But that night, an unexpected moment came as my cheerful daughter stood in the mirror, her wet red curls draped over her new pink polka dot bathrobe. As she smiled at her reflection, she said, “I can’t wait to get to Heaven so I can meet Jesus.”
Her comment took me by such surprise, and the familiar voice whispered, Now.
I hesitated but knew that this statement hadn’t come by accident. I echoed her excitement and replied, “You know, Meme’s going to get to meet Jesus soon. Won’t that be great for her?”
My tone didn’t fool Alyssa. Her expression changed from joy to veiled sadness in an instant. “But if Meme dies, I’ll miss her. I’ll cry.”
“I’ll cry, too, Alyssa.”
She turned around and buried her head in my chest. “I want to cry but I’m trying not to.”
“You can cry Alyssa. It’s okay.”
But she never did. Instead we chatted about how Granddaddy would miss Meme. She asked if Meme would be a widow in heaven. She peppered me with questions, to which I did my best to reply.
After tucking her into bed and kissing her goodnight, I settled on the couch and heard, “Mommy? Can we go see Meme tomorrow?”
“Yes, Alyssa, we can.”
I knew God provided once again. He had given me the divine moment to drop a seed into my daughter’s heart, to prepare her in a small way for her journey of grief.
By that simple conversation, I knew. God confirmed it. It will not be easy. The ball may very well drop. Crushing waves of grief will come. But His grace will be sufficient. He will sustain me and my family. He will provide.
Psalm 43 tells us that our greatest joy is being in the presence of God. Many times we’re most aware of His presence during the darkest times when we’re left with nothing but to trust Him. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. For every second, every minute, every hour of every hard day.