one year

One year ago today I said goodbye to my Mom.

One year ago today I spent the day with my dad, sister, brother and uncle . . . gathered around my Mom, comforting her while she slipped into sleep, then death.

One year ago today I walked out of the nursing home room clutching my Mom's glasses, her blanket and an emptiness I will hang on to forever.

I miss you, Mom

My thoughts and feelings today are hard to explain, so I found the eulogy I gave at her burial.  It is a letter I wrote to her grandchildren and best describes what I feel my Mom would have wanted them to know and carry in their hearts.

Dear Maddi, Ellie, Ben, Alyssa, Maren and Megan,
Today we are here to honor the life of Grandma Sue.  To lay her remains next to her father, mother and brother; as was her wish.  We will do and say all things in her memory today.
Grandma Sue had many wishes.  One of the greatest was to know you, love you, and see you grow and prosper.  

Since Grandma is no longer here on earth to see her wishes come to be, it falls to her children to carry those wishes in our hearts and share them with you.
My wish and prayer today is for you  to know, really know, just how much Grandma Sue loved you.  I know this based not only on her words, but by her actions as a mother to me, Jessie and Jon.  Grandma adored being a mother and took joy in caring for us as we were children.  She showed us love through countless hugs and kisses, by kneeling aside our bed to rub our backs when we were troubled, and by spending many hours in the kitchen creating what have come to be our favorite foods.
Grandma showed her love for her children by caring.  Always offering open arms, ready for an embrace to share in our sorrows and celebrate our joys.  Jessie, Jon and I know how to offer comfort to you because we learned it from how Grandma showed her love to us . . . . physical and obvious,  never saying we were too old or getting too big to receive her hugs.
My wish and prayer today is for you to know the strength and grace it took for Grandma Sue to show her love to you.   I do not want you to remember Grandma as she was sick, but to know her by the stories we will share and the gifts she left IN you.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Gifts like her laughter.  Did you know every time you laugh and giggle a little part of Grandma is laughing too?  Grandma loved to laugh.  Sometimes with a closed mouth smirk and a twinkle in her eyes, other times with a sly snicker but most often she let loose with a loud, belly heaving, air catching cackle that made everyone within earshot smile.  If you ever forget the sounds, or if you are too little to remember, simply tell a joke or make a funny face or tickle your parents to experience Grandma Sue's laughter through our mouths.  Laughter is such a great gift to be able to share, and you have Grandma to thank for sharing with you.
Romans 12:4-6
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
Another gift Grandma left in you was a desire to clean and organize.  You may not know it yet, but there is a special talent to making things nice and tidy.  Grandma shared with us when we were children, exactly how to make-up a proper bed (learned from HER father, Grandpa Mahan, just how to make 'hospital' corners with the sheets nice and tight).  She also taught her children how to dust, vacuum (lines!  don't step on the freshly made vacuumed lines!), wash a floor on your hands and knees (the proper way), and clean a bathroom faucet to make it shine.  You may not appreciate being the recipient of such knowledge, as these tasks are often thought of as dreaded chores, but learning how to take care good care of things and picking up after yourself will serve you and your future families.
In her own way, Grandma was teaching us from:
Deuteronomy 15:10
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to

Inside of you, her beautiful grandchildren, Grandma gave you the desire to try, and try again.  Perseverance.  She was troubled by so many internal struggles that caused her to stumble and fall so many times, but she was always willing to stand up and try again.  An old Chinese Proverb states that "failure is not falling down but refusing to get up."  I believe Grandma tried, and tried again until God told her she could rest.  Her body was tired and worn out from her battles.  Up until her last hours on earth she was attempting to "get up and get moving", in an effort to try, try again.
Philippians 3:20-21
But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Now in heaven, Grandma has a glorious body that knows no pain.  She is free from the heavy burden it took to keep her ailing body alive.  I believe it was God's will whispered to Grandma that she turn to Him and asked for relief.  For His will be carried out and her eternal life with Him to begin sooner than later.
Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
When you are older, as Maddi is now, I hope we share with you the story of our last couple of days with Grandma Sue.  Chased by fear and anxieties for most of her life, God whisked those burdens away and replaced it with peace.  We want you to know that Grandma was able to enjoy and participate in conversations and memories with us.  We want you to know she laughed.  We want you to know she tried to keep herself from falling asleep because didn't want to miss out on any of the conversations.  We want you to know how happy she was to be free from dialysis and how she was able to enjoy the foods and drinks she desired.  We want you to know one of her last wishes was to have her children & her brother with her as she transitioned to eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.  We want you to know how God blessed Grandma with a peaceful journey.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.  What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man's mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Grandma Sue would want you to know while she was sad to leave us behind, but she was ready for this next season to join her heavenly father, and the many loved ones who had left before her.  She would want you to know God and learn about all the promises He has made for those who ask for a relationship with Him.  She would want you to know she loves you and wants you to hear her life story.  She would want you to know some of the best life lessons come from greatest human struggles. 
She wants you to remember to try, and try again. And when you feel like you alone and helpless to turn to God to walk with you or carry you through.  It doesn't matter how late in life you reach out to Him, He will be right there with eternal open arms.
Traditional Christian Prayer
God of all consolation,
In your unending love and mercy for us
You turn the darkness of death
Into the dawn of new life
Show compassion to your people in their sorrow.

Be our refuge and our strength
To lift us from the darkness of this grief
to the peace and light of your presence.

Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
By dying for us, conquered death
And by rising again, restored life.

May we then go forward eagerly to meet him,
And after our life on earth
Be reunited with our brothers and sisters
Where every tear will be wiped away

Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 


Joanne said...

This is truly beautiful Amy. Such sweet and loving words. I'm sure your Mom is smiling down on you with pride. She sure raised an amazing daughter!

Lori Wetzel said...

Amy, so beautiful! Wow! This is a beautiful keepsake for each generation. May God comfort your heart today. Hugs.

Nikki of Our Diabetic Warrior said...

Sweet friend, may God blanket you with His peace and comfort.

Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is near the brokenhearted..."

Your letter is beautiful!

Sarah said...

Amy this is a beautiful tribute to your mom, thank you for sharing it with us and may today be filled with moments of laughter and joy as you remember her :)

Denise aka Mom of Bean said...

It makes it a bit easier knowing we get to see our loved ones again. Not a lot, but a bit.

Carma said...

Absolutely beautiful. What a lovely memorial to your mom. I know it was not easy to write at the time but thank you for sharing.

childhood anxiety treatment said...

So inspiring. I love your post.