“Help! I don’t have the strength to care for mama today…to bathe her frail, fading body…please, no.”
This heart-sick plea flew from my lips as I drove home that beautiful, crisp, spring May morning. The beauty around me was unable to touch my raw and weary soul. I willed my car to drive anywhere BUT here. The house where my mother was dying. It wouldn’t be long now.
Months of testing and diagnosis. Multiple hours-long surgeries on vital organs and limbs. All had led to letting go, coming home to hospice and the days remaining. Months of shedding all that passes away. In her life and mine.
When the cancer came, I juggled a part-time ministry position and a full-time high school teaching job. Thankfully, I was living at home or the few precious days left would have been lost. I was slowly being freed from the restless striving that marked my life for many years. Learning to let go of that which is seen for the unseen eternal.
I surrendered my plans to continue seminary that were intertwined with the ministry position. This did not come until stage four cancer found bones and terminal meant months.
There were two months of long weekends of travel when a two-hour drive and a state separated her from Dad and me, necessary when a broken arm and hip revealed metastasis on the night before my twin sister’s wedding. (Picture the ceremony fed into hospital room and bridesmaids rushing to the surgical waiting room after the wedding.) Subsequently, she was too fragile to travel home. On I lived and taught and sat by my mother’s bed. I saw her eyes of worry…for me.
When there were but days remaining, I finally made the decision to take a leave of absence from teaching to come home and spend all the time I could with her.
One morning I cried out to God when the silence of my activity-cleared life brought me face to face with the screaming reality of losing my mother, who I loved so much. It hurt unbearably. She was dying, wasting away. I didn’t have the strength to be in her presence. Today I could not bathe this once strong, do-everything-for-everybody woman now wracked with cancer, so frail that simply breathing was her life’s work.
The God of the broken and bankrupt answered my cry almost instantly through His faithful Word, “Yes, she is outwardly wasting away, but inwardly she is being renewed day-by-day…being made ready for her eternal home.”(II Corinthians 4:18 paraphrased)
“Look into her eyes and see how they are stronger, clearer, and becoming infinitely beautiful.”
As I cared for her that morning and she lay back on her hospital bed, I looked into an ocean of crystal-clear deep blue eyes and marveled. They were brighter and stronger than ever. I saw home…her fast approaching eternal one and my own.
We were both ending a long hard-fought journey. Standing on the brink of a plunge into the depths of eternal beauty. As our eyes locked, I knew neither of us wanted to turn back.