I just walked away from the piano in our church's sanctuary, my eyes damp. I'm stunned I didn't lose it all together. The last chorus I led for our worship service was "Agnus Dei." The chorus says "Holy are you Lord God Almighty, worthy is the Lamb..." The book of Revelation tells us these are words that are coming from heavenly beings in praise to God even as I type this. I can only imagine the actual, glorious sound of those words being proclaimed in heaven, but Mom is experiencing them first-hand. As I was leading the song, I thought of Mom, in heaven, relieved from her cancer-ridden body, graduated from this world, promoted to the presence of Almighty God and in the company of her Savior. Today, Mom and I were praising the Lord at the same time, just in different places. And I thought, this will be Mom's best Christmas ever. The day before she died, I told her I was going to miss her this Thanksgiving and Christmas. And her being Mom 'til the end said to me, "I'm sorry about that," to which I responded through tears, "Don't apologize, you're going to be having a great time!" And she is, right now. She gets to party with the Birthday Boy. She also told me before she died, "Remember the good times." This being Christmas time, there's a lot to choose from, like when we were younger, she'd put numbers on our presents instead of our names to keep us from figuring who's were who's, or when she outlined a Christmas tree shape out of gold garland over our fire place, and that was our tree that year. Her cooking the Christmas dinner with that incessant towel over her shoulder, contorting her body to get just the right camera angle, and her crying last year when I gave her a framed black and white picture of me kissing my son Max. Cards and letters made her cry a lot the last year she was here. But no more. God has wiped every tear from her eyes and she is about to have her best Christmas ever. I still can't believe she's gone, don't know when and if that feeling will ever leave me, but this morning, December 23 2007, I had no doubt where she had gone to and what she's doing right now. The merriest of Christmases to you, Mom, and that's not just a wish, for it is your reality.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
My mom is dying. Millions of moms have died throughout the centuries, but that's different; they weren't MY mom. Her battle with cancer is coming to an end. It's been a year and a half of her fighting for her life. Never have I known anyone that had such a resolve to live. But she fought as long and as hard as she could. There are so many thoughts I could write out about dealing with her mortality. Pictures from our family album come to mind, pictures of her at Christmas, with her family, as a teenager, even as a baby. Thoughts of the past make me emotional when I compare that vibrant woman to the one who is lying in a hospital bed graciously waiting to go be with Jesus. Thoughts of the future also get to me. Thanksgiving, Christmas... she won't be there, and I'm talking THIS Thanksgiving and Christmas. Amidst the sorrow of this season of life, my soul is at peace. She is ready to go, She is fearless in the face of death, for she knows her destination when she goes. She has always been a strong woman, and even while losing the fight against cancer, she is mom strong. I went to see her in the ICU ward. She didn't know I was coming. As soon as she saw me, she lifted her arms out from under the covers, tubes coming out from each limb, and she reached out to hug me. Mom 'till the end. I just cried. She said it would be okay. I know that. I'm not scared. I'm not angry at God, I totally trust Him with my mom, it's just emotional. She told me to tell my kids that she loved them very much and that she was sad that she wasn't going to be able to see them grow up. As I sobbed, I assured her they would know for the rest of their lives how much their Nanny loved them. So we're waiting. Mom said she didn't know what was taking God so long to take her, and that is hard because she is suffering, but I have to trust His higher ways. There is purpose for her life up to the very end. I told Mom I would miss her. No one prepares you to say that to your parent when you're facing losing them. She's only 67, but disease is no respector of persons. I am thankful for those 67 years. I am thankful for the faith she taught me to have in my God even when my heart is breaking. She's been saying ever since she knew she was done, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I'm thrilled for her, bummed for me and my kids. "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of the saints." Shirley Ann Couch, about to be more precious than ever.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I'm exhausted, emotionally and physically. While in Japan, I got an email from my wife saying my mom was in the hospital, going down. Doctors saying, "She could pull through, we've been wrong before." Those were the last words I read before boarding my first commuter flight to Narita to endure an 8 hour layover before a 10 hour flight home. At least I had something to think about for the next 18 hours. I called my wife from Narita and she said Mom was doing better. Then by the end of the week, the report was Mom was going down hill fast again. Then after "speeding" as fast as I could through rush hour traffic to get to her side, I was told she's doing better. Then she had surgery, which took care of the immediate problem, but she has "mutifaceted medical issues," as the surgeon says. Mom's been battling abdominal cancer for a year and a half now, and is a survivor of breast cancer from 1996. For today, she's doing well, as well as can be. I cried last night, thinking of how much she loves my kids, and thinking about them not having their Nanny. I cried pretty hard. It's been described as a roller coaster ride. When I was younger, roller coasters were nothing but fun. Now that I'm older, they make me kind of queasy. I didn't like Magic Mountain. It made me sick, the more coasters I rode. No wonder kids and teenagers don't describe life as a roller coaster, but adults. Too many ups and downs can make older stomaches unsettled. They can hurt your neck and back. Pretty soon we avoid them all together, but some we have to ride. No choice. I find comfort in knowing I get on the dang thing with Jesus, ride it with Him, and He gets off with me. And any time I'm "talked" into riding another, He's my partner, strapped in right beside me. Please pray for my mom. Arms up! We're going down...
Friday, August 10, 2007
I hate my glasses. I just got new ones. They've tatooed my nose and my vision is still blurry. I thought they looked good in the optician's office, but then they put my big ol' thick lenses in them and I didn't look as hot. I've had a love/hate relationship with my glasses over the years. I've loved them at night when I could just take them off and go to bed, free of the contact lens extracting and cleaning process. I've hated them when it rains and they get wet. I loved them when I first got them in first grade and one lens had to be patched to strengthen my weak eye and my goofball cousin drew an eye on the covered lens. I hated them when people called me "professor" and "4 eyes," but I came up with a really good response to that one. I'd retort, "Four eyes are better than two." "Not when two of them are glass." "Then they're not really eyes." I used to pray for God to heal my eyes so I wouldn't need to wear anything to correct my vision. I believed He could. I know He still can, even now that I've been diagnosed with a disease called keraticonus that is supposed to slowly degenerate my eye sight over the years. Anyone have a couple corneas they can donate? I'm not worried about it. The opthamologist says I'm good for several more years, it's progressing very slowly. I am scared of another kind of nearsightedness. 1 Peter 1 gives us a checklist that we need to add to our faith; goodness, knowledge, self-control, perserverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. These qualities in increasing measure will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Christ. But whoever does not have them is "nearsigthed and blind and has forgotton that he has been cleansed from his past sins." Let my physical eyes fail, Lord willing, but may I never be blind in my spirit, and may I never forget what I've been forgiven of. So, whether my head is bespectacled or not, may my soul always be a perfect 20/20.