Addressing the Poo Poo and the Importance of When “Jesus Wept”

One of the things that I have realized after going through a loss of someone so close is the natural tendency to want to get out of those dark days of sadness. And to make it worse, our “Christian” culture has sometimes made it unsafe to be grieving. Or in one way of saying it, our culture does not allow grieving like it used to. I am unsure which one came first: the church following our culture, or the culture following the church. To that, I say a bunch of poo poo… yes, I said, poo poo. I could have said a mingling of other words but I am choosing to remain calm today (just writing this out makes me laugh out loud).

To be perfectly clear, I have only had minimal criticism in this way. But because of that criticism it made me reflect and observe the natural tendencies of some places where grieving should be allowed, and allowed without judgment from others. It technically should be allowed anywhere since the grieving process is often filled with an unexpected journey of tears that strike in the most inopportune moments. It should be allowed in your home, in your friendships (you will find out who sincerely loves and cares for you during this time), in your marriage and appropriately even at your job. It definitely should be allowed at church.

To be treated and told in more ways than one that you must be doing something wrong, lacking faith and/or not obeying God correctly because you are grieving and struggling with the separation that death brings, is the most absurd thing that I have ever witnessed and heard. To anyone who believes this I challenge you to look at the life of Jesus. Out of any man in this life, he showed us how to continue on obeying God while still grieving. Because of who he was (and who he still is), he was able to do miraculous acts after raising the dead as a statement of the victory that he would bring over death from his own sacrifice on the cross.

For a ladies Bible study I researched the passage in John 11 where “Jesus wept”. That is a legit scripture right there people! It is found in John 11:35. Why did Jesus weep you might ask? He wept because of the deep grief he was feeling for the loss of his good friend Lazarus and the loss he saw Mary and Martha experience. Grief is multi layered. It is not a cut and dry experience. With the loss of someone so close it is more than just the loss of the person. Everything changes. Families change, relationships change, and the way life was, will never be the same, ever again.

I understand this because with the passing of my Mom, I have to grieve the loss of who my Dad was with my Mom. I am having to process the ongoing grief of the loss of who our family was with her around. I am changing. All of us have been forced to change. My relationship with my husband is changing. It literally is one of the most challenging things to wrap my mind around, especially with the holidays.

Anyways, lets get back to Jesus!…

Jesus loved Lazarus deeply. He also loved Mary and Martha deeply. There were multiple layers of grief going on here within Jesus, the Son of God. Really? In this passage we can see but a brief insight into the grief that Jesus experienced himself. Mary knew who Jesus was, which was why she said in verse 32 of John 11, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Can you imagine what Jesus had to have felt, knowing how true her words were? Can you imagine what was going through his mind knowing the pain that Mary was experiencing while she was saying them? Every grieving person goes through the “if only” and “what if” questions. Jesus experienced this first hand. He felt her pain while he was feeling his own.

What I love the most is Jesus’ response to Mary in the next several verses:

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.” (John 11:33-35 ESV).

Jesus, God made flesh wept because of the grief he felt and also witnessed in others. This man named Lazarus was a dearly loved friend of Jesus. This was heartfelt, deep sorrow that Jesus was experiencing with those who were grieving in that moment. Lazarus had been dead for four days. Mary and Martha were already on the course to readjust living their lives in a new way. Jesus could have chosen to immediately raise Lazarus from the dead, but he did not.

To me this reveals the human side of Jesus. Why? Because Jesus took the time to grieve. He took the time to weep with those who were weeping (yes, this is also another scripture found in Romans 12:15). He took the time to mourn with them.

The next passage gives us insight into the reason why God came as a man. It is where God triumphs over death, which reveals the greatest act yet to come from Jesus himself for all mankind, found in the gospels. The next passage begins again with a similar theme where it says, “Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb.” (John 11:38a).

Did you catch that? He was deeply moved not once, but twice! Can you believe it? Jesus, who was about to raise Lazarus from the dead; the one who was going to conquer sin and death for anyone who would accept him after dying on the cross, was deeply moved when he got to the tomb of Lazarus. Let’s just pause right there for a moment. Let that sink in…

Out of everyone on earth, don’t you think that Jesus would have been able to just charge right in there without a tear knowing that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead? He also knew that his death and resurrection would mean victory over sin and death. But yet he still grieved in that moment.

It says in Isaiah 53:3 that, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” So, if you are being despised because of grieving. If you are being told that you need to work harder to get over it. Or if someone has the nerve to tell you that you lack faith because of the grief that you are currently going through, understand this:

Jesus mourned and grieved himself and he still brought glory and honor to God. Grieving has nothing to do with faith, lack of it or mountains full of it. As seen through the example of Jesus, love in human form, when centered in God, can still mourn, grieve, and weep while making a huge impact for God’s kingdom.

We also have this scripture to hold onto as well, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4,5).

The death and resurrection of Lazarus reveals so much about Jesus being both man and God in one. It reveals a heart of love and understanding of anything and everything that we go through. Take heart dear child of the King. God will carry you through every high and every low point of your life. He still weeps with you. What a beautiful, powerful image of God.

All scripture verses were from the ESV Study Bible published by Crossway.

Thanksgiving: Beauty Amidst Sorrow

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I will be perfectly honest with you and tell you that for me, the anticipation of the Thanksgiving Holiday was much more difficult than the actual day. Questions would go through my mind about how we were going to be able to handle the day without our Mom. Initially, Mom and Dad were not going to be able to be a part of Thanksgiving this year due to serving in Dominica. But it was the reality that we would never have this day with Mom as a part of it that created such turmoil. I cried everyday prior to Thursday. I would wake up in a deep sadness and go to bed with a similar ache. But Thanksgiving morning came and I was doing much better than I had anticipated.

There was joy in being able to pick up our 6-year-old daughter knowing that we were going to bake in the kitchen together. Some of my fondest memories with my Mom were in the kitchen. Not every Mom or woman in the kitchen would do such a thing. The kitchen for my Mom was a place of love not a place of ownership. Because these times with her were so precious, my dream was to do the same with my daughter. And I have to say that this year it was so healing for us to bake pumpkin pies. My daughter would ask me, “Did Grandma Carrie teach you this?” and I would reply, “Yes, she did. And that is why I want to teach you.” Her eyes would light up and she would smile from ear to ear.

It is moments like these that help all of us to be able to grieve in a healthy way.

Thanksgiving week seemed to be a refining time for my heart. The past several months have presented challenges and other heartaches. God has somehow increased his measure of love within my heart for others, especially those who have hurt me during this journey. I know that there are many who simply say things because they do not understand. But there is such a thing as empathy and compassion for others who are grieving and doing their best to work through the grief while living their lives. This Thanksgiving God was able to bring me around full circle. He helped me to realize that most often, those who inflict pain upon others have hidden wounds and pains themselves. This is not a new fact for me. But God gave me a deeper understanding of such things.

God has been teaching me so much about the hurting. Because of what I have been experiencing through my own journey of grief, God has been helping me walk others through similar pain. I never would have these new tools and insights had I not been on this journey. There can be so much beauty amidst such sorrow.

My Mom was an amazing gift. She graced this earth with obedience and love to God that many would never be willing to give simply because of their own selfishness. Through her death, we saw the ultimate sacrifice. Even though there is pain in the separation, there still is so much beauty.

Having made it through Thanksgiving, gratefulness overflows out of my heart for God. He has blessed us so much. He has taken care of us in our time of need. He has given us many more moments with our Dad whom, had things gone differently, would still have been serving on the island of Dominica. God continues to reveal through our mess that life is still so beautiful!

There is so much to be thankful for.

Thank you God!

We love you!

Thanksgiving: my thoughts on grieving and why I am thankful

This week has been interesting. The anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday has been an up and down journey. By now I have become used to the interesting face of grief, even if I wish it were not there. Any writing that I do is normally a healing form of processing every feeling, and thought. These run rampant and can often change without a moment’s notice. From the grief books as well as talking with others who have had their own loss, this is all normal.

In light of Thanksgiving, I truly wish the best time for each of you. There is so much to be thankful for. If you find yourself struggling through the loss of someone dear to you, know that you are allowed time to grapple and struggle. If the holidays bring pain from a loss, know that there are many who pray for you. I know that I am. Even though there are some days that may seem so hard that I wish the day would just end, I am thankful for this journey. This journey helps me to understand those suffering losses so much better. It provides an instant connection with someone else that I may have only met that day. We can come together in the loss and pain, with the understanding that there are no words needed since we are going through the same journey, separate, yet together. How beautiful is that? When half the nation seems torn right now, rioting against brothers and sisters, we can still come together, even amidst our differences and just be present, praying for our hurting hearts.

Beauty often comes after a harsh, long, and tiring journey, where victory comes from endurance, faithfulness, and remaining true to Gods calling on your life. The journey of grieving has beauty written all over it, especially when one is willing to face it head on, walk through it, and acknowledge that it will be there for a lifetime. This does not mean that you lack faith. If anything it acknowledges the great faith you have to be able to endure such heartache and still trust in God. Keep your eyes to the heavens. God is there while you cry. He understands a life of sorrow. Jesus lived it. If you do not believe me, look up the prophecies about Jesus, as well as his time in ministry. He wept. He suffered the loss of his own earthly father. He let grief go, which meant that he felt it, worked through it, and continued to live life through the heartache. He just understood eternity and heaven much better since he was also God in human flesh.

This then makes me think how much grace and understanding God gives to us during our time of grief. I know that I am much harder on myself. This comes partially from the lack of understanding from others, so I feel like I should be doing much better than I am. I am thankful that God understands. I am thankful that God knows my heart. He knows your heart as well. This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful that God is trustworthy. He has carried us all through some of our hardest, and darkest moments. When we are at our worst, he still loves us so much. I am thankful that he holds me when I feel like giving up on everything just because the pain in my heart is overpowering reason. I am thankful he never gives up on me. He is always there. He has never left me when uncontrollable tears start to flow.

Yes, there is so much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you know how loved and valued you are.

The End of the Journey at the Hospital in Fort Pierce

After our meeting with the Doctor we all had agreed upon allowing Mom to heal here on this earth without any further intervention. We knew that either decision she would not survive long unless God chose to miraculously restore her body. It was with this knowledge, that saying, “see you later” was the hardest to do. My last few hours with her were very precious. I had a hard time with the fact that this might be the very last time I was ever with my Mom.

During that time I was able to say those precious things that I needed her to know. I needed her to know that it was fine for her to run into Jesus’ arms. I needed her to know that God was answering her prayers. I needed her to know just how big of a spiritual mentor, leader, friend, and Mom she was to all of us, especially to me. I needed her to know so many things that were pouring from deep within me that no words seemed good enough. Yet, I still told her over and over. The hardest part was leaving her there, knowing that I would never hear her say my name again, or being able to embrace her and share a cup of coffee. I had to say “goodbye” to one of my best friends.

Leaving my Dad at the hospital was brutal. I had moments during my workdays where I literally could not think about anything other than my Dad who was once again alone in the hospital with my Mom. Several days went by and we were informed that my Mom was put on hospice care. She remained comfortable without any life support. We knew that her time was short. The term “short” had different meanings to each of us. I was unsure she would live much longer than a few days.

On the beautiful, warm, Florida morning of August 7th, just as the sun was rising, my Mom breathed her last breath as my Dad held her hand and watched. She had not even made it a full 24 hours without life support. She was now running into the arms of Jesus, her Savior whom she loved with her whole entire being. She was able to hold her precious baby that she so longed to bring forth into this life. She was reunited with family members and friends. She was healed. She was radiant.

I received the news while at a youth camp at 3 am. It was odd to receive news that I knew would eventually be coming my way. At the same time, the message that we had prepared for the youth, was only made much more impactful by her death. I was willing to lay my heart in front of those kids in order for them to understand the vast love God has for us. Mom showed us that with her life as well as in her death.

From that day on life was a whirl. We had tons of support from many people we did not even know. Somehow we were able to get all of the arrangements done in time for her funeral on August 19th. Work during that time was a struggle and my days were much longer just so that I could get everything done. My mind was having a hard time focusing so I would often work for 2-3 hours and then get up and move for 5-10 minutes. If I needed to, I would work at a coffee shop when I was not working from home or from the office. I was doing what I could to still minister well and work through my own grief.

Today, days are still hard. In some sense I would say that I know that I definitely need a break. I never took any bereavement time. I never took any extra days off. So here I am, holidays coming, draining myself of energy well spent. Yet my heart aches with the grief of losing my own Mom. I cry more often and allow myself to be fine with the reality that I will still cry more than I ever thought I could. I am allowing myself to grieve. It feels good to allow myself to grieve despite the agonizing heartache it takes to do so.

Please pray for our family. It has not yet been 4 months since Mom entered Heaven. The holidays are upon us and we do not know what these days look like. We appreciate your support and any grace given during this time. We need safe people who will let us be ourselves as we learn more of who we are in this process. And above all, together, let us thank God for blessing us with those near and dear to us.

Thank you to each of you who helped give money so that we could be together in Fort Pierce! We needed that time together.

Thank you God for Mom!

Thank you God for a Dad who loves you and is a great example to us!

Thank you God that you form and knit families together.

We love you, great and mighty King!

Candles. Grieving #2 and #3

I just lit candles all over my house. This is something that always reminds me of Mom.

We grew up with a Mom who had an addiction to candles. I remember going to stores with her and both of us saying that we would not even look down the candle aisle knowing that if we did, we would come away with more candles than we needed. In fact, Mom would have candles in a storage container in a closet that she always had ready. This candle addiction meant that most chilly nights the lights would be turned out and candles lit everywhere. Happy memories come from the soft glow and wonderful scents of candles. Sometimes, as I light them, I will cry. Other times I smile. Most of the time it is a mingling of both.

As we continue to live our lives without our beautiful Mom, I continue to learn from this journey. It is a painful yet beautiful journey.

It puts life into perspective. It has shown me a part of God that touches my heart so deeply that no words can describe it.

Here are #2 and #3 of my notes for grieving:

  • Take time to focus on yourself. Because of what happens in the grieving process, taking care of your body, and spiritual well-being is of vital importance. I am constantly learning what this looks like. I often have to say, “no, thank you” to invites especially when I have not had time to process and decompress from the week. Long showers, drinking more water, putting on special lotion, and heating up a neck wrap are all ways that make me feel like I am taking care of myself.

  • Cry and cry some more. Have Kleenex boxes all over the house. It is okay. Just let the tears flow and go eat a little bit of dark chocolate.

God is what makes life beautiful. He grieves with you. Let him hold you today. Go light some candles on these cold, wet, dreary days. Hope.

Daily Insight: Grieving #1

The holidays are steadily on their way. People are making plans with their loved ones. It is a time that is meant to be so full of joy and happiness. I say those two words because there is a difference between the two. It is a strange thing to feel joy even when ones heart is so broken and aching. I still have joy even though I may not have feelings of happiness.

The other day I woke up around 6 am and felt emotional pain that took my breath away. It was as if my mind had finally slowed down enough to feel every little thing that has happened these past three to four months. I have been so busy that it can get hard to focus on my own grieving. This is one of the major reasons why I am writing about my own journey. It is a way that can help me grieve as life does not give me much chance to slow down.

Grieving is hard work! Literally your body secretes more cortisol, which zaps the energy right out of you and dehydrates your body. Based on my own journey I would like to share my insights on grieving so far.

Grieving #1:

  • Give yourself permission to grieve:  Our culture does not acknowledge loss like it used to. We do our best to cover it up with other things. When I get too busy, I have to slow myself down and make time to process everything that is going on.

If you are going through your own grieving process make sure to go easy on yourself and allow yourself permission to grieve. There will be plenty of people to criticize you but you need to heal. It will be better for you if you work on this as it comes rather than stuffing it down.

You are not alone. You have a God who loves you. He holds you as you cry. Even in the grieving God is doing something incredibly beautiful!

Meeting with the Doctor.

In the past week and a half I have felt like all the words and emotions have been stuck inside of me. I have realized that I have had a difficult time putting all of the pieces together of the past several months. Because of this I must apologize as time literally has taken on a whole new meaning. I feel much older than I actually am after these past 4 months. Exhaustion has become a steady part of life. Swollen eyes from crying for hours and headaches to follow are all normal. I am uncertain of what my soul will look like after the brunt of this pain has dulled. I know that I am a daughter of the King and He is teaching me how to learn a new dance. He is using every ache in my heart to mold me and to teach me more about His great love. He is making me stronger.

The days in the hospital at Fort Pierce seemed much longer than they actually were. My accounts are pieced together and are somewhat difficult to filter through. The meeting with the Doctor finally happened after waiting for several days. Some of Mom’s nurses and care team were a part of this family meeting. I have to point this out because these people were rock stars. The love and care that they gave to my Mom was phenomenal. I wanted to hug them so tight in gratefulness each time that I saw them. We could not say thank you enough. They were caring for the most amazing woman we had known as Mom, confidant, friend, counselor, doctor, and comforter. They were caring for her in ways that we were unable to.

The air was thick with tension. There was a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball (at least it felt that way) and I had to tell myself to breathe. I did my best to put on a brave face, although, I have often been told that my face looks angry even when I think that I have a smirk on. My face is a horrible liar of what I attempt so hard for it to portray. I really do not know why this is and it can be very frustrating at times.

The Doctor had finalized looking over all of the recent test results, and brain scans. He came into the room and summarized what had happened to Mom’s brain and what was currently going on. To sum it up, Mom’s brain had such a big clot in it that her brain matter had literally been moved over. The stroke was likely due to her Lupus attacking her brain. Any small bump to her head that would move this brain clot further would kill her. She would never regain the use of her left side, as the damage was already too severe. This news was not of any alarm to me. I had enough education about the body to see and understand what was going on. I saw the swelling in her hands and the drooping of her left side, as well as the awkward position she was in, and knew that if there was ever a chance she came back awake, she would never, ever be the same. The Doctor confirmed this when he gave us our choices for what was to come next.

Because he saw how much my Dad loved and cared for my Mom, he knew that she was deeply loved. He said that sometimes scenarios would come up where he has to look at other reasons for procedures other than just for the patient. He saw how much we loved our Mom and that he was willing to do a procedure to remove the blood clot in hopes that the bleeding would stop, and the swelling in her brain would go down enough that her brain matter could heal. The chances of her surviving this procedure were very slim as her other brain cells were very weak and could cause another cataclysmic stroke in a different area of her brain. If she did survive this procedure, the best scenario was that she would be paralyzed. She would most likely not even be able to speak. She would need constant care for the rest of her life. Rehab would be very difficult.

Anyone that knows my Mom knows how much she never let her illness define her. She had been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus for over 20 years and had lived in immeasurable pain everyday. Each year I would say that the pain and issues worsened. Many times she would have to go on special medications just to be able to have the energy and endurance to enjoy family events and important outreaches. So many people never fully realized the sacrifices that she would make to her health and her body just to be given the honor to serve them. She never wanted a handout. She always wanted to do for others.

For those of you who took her for granted and talked bad about her; to those who judged her on the sidelines because you justified your apathy; to all those who abandoned her when she needed a cheerleader, know that she loved you despite it all. Might I also add that I need to say this: I forgive you. It is one of the most painful things to see such a hardworking, loving, tough woman who made the sacrifices that she did, get beat up by backstabbers, gossipers, and slanderers who masked themselves as friends and leaders. I pray that someday you will be known by another name. I pray that you will understand that my Mom only wanted you to know how much Jesus loves you. I desire this for you as well. I need to tell you again: I forgive you. Please do not be held back by any shame or guilt. None of us want that for you. Embrace forgiveness from Jesus and change. Be like Jesus. Be love to the world.

To all of those who prayed for her, bought her coffee, gave her an extra sweater, or turned up the heat in your house because she was cold; to those who baked a meal, gave her candles, and told her “thank you”, know that she never took your simple gestures and kind words for granted. She loved so many of you. It was this love that somehow was still shining even  on the hospital bed. It was this love that motivated her to give her life for Jesus as she did.

For that love, we knew that she would suffer even greater knowing that she could not do anything on her own if she survived the procedure her Doctor offered for her. We were devastated. As I was holding back tears, I realized that I was also holding my breath. My younger brother started to cry, the pain evident on his face. Then my older sister started to hand out Kleenexes. By that time I could no longer keep the tears inside and I had to remind myself to breathe. As reality hit each of us differently, my older brother started to ask questions that I could not even think of at that time. These questions helped lead us to talking out the next steps for our beautiful Mom.

The conversation that followed made the Doctor and nurses cry. They knew what this meant for us. They saw our struggle. They wanted our Mom to get better. Every little thing that they did was in an effort to restore our Mom back to us. So, in those minutes, each one of us was unified. Love was in that room. Love for a woman that each of us had known in our own personal way, whether she was wife, friend, sister, Mom, Mother-in-law, or patient.

Yes, Love met us in the room that night. In the mess of us, love was what made this night beautiful. Love was still alive. It was what helped us make the decisions before us.

The Journey Continues: My prayer the night of July 30th

I am not yet ready to write out the next part of the journey where we talked with the Doctor. What I would like to share is a journal entry that I wrote on July 30th late at night when I was unable to sleep. Journaling is a process. I often write down many different thoughts as well as what God shows me in that moment. This night was a special one as I was able to see just how much God longs for our complete healing and reconciliation with Him in the physical sense of entering Heaven.

Please note that my journal entries are unedited. Anything that you read is pure, raw emotion and an honest portrayal of how my mind often works through everything that I am going through.

Here is my Journal entry to God July 30th in Fort Pierce, Florida Holiday Inn:

“I really don’t have the words enough right now to say what is going on inside of me. Seeing Mom in the hospital bed all hooked up makes my heart hurt. She doesn’t deserve this. She hasn’t deserved such pain that she has endured for so long. I understand that many do not view death as a positive thing but you oh Lord see it as a glorious beginning to eternity with you! It is selfish of us to want to keep her here in a state of pain and hardship, especially when Heaven is our true home. You also long for us… You are selfish of us… You want us to be with you.

I know how much Mom loves you. I know that for many years her longing for Heaven has grown. It naturally should for any follower of you. Now, Lord we ask that you would guide us in these moments. If your will is to heal her here on earth we ask that you would do so. Please have her awaken, brain healed, lupus gone and body fully functioning. Essentially we are asking you to raise her from the dead. If not on this earth at this time Lord then please take her peacefully home into your arms. And may those who are a little distant from you come to an understanding of how much you love Mom! And just because of this separation it does not mean that you do not love us.

Oh, Lord please meet her in her sleep. Walk with her, talk with her. Please come to her aid. Help us to let her go. She has been beaten and broken down for so long. Please rescue her! Please pick her up and take her home… Right now that is what looks best. It is what is least selfish unless you reveal to us that you still have plans for her here. Please guide us… Show us your will.

“Through the process. Through the waiting. You’re making melodies over me.” Oh Lord, you love us so greatly. Each of us is special to you. Thank you for your promises! You long for us… You long for us more than I ever fully realized until today. It’s more than just giving a part of ourselves to you but our entire being. That will never be fully complete until we joyfully run into your arms in Heaven. You long for that day we enter Heaven, our home that you prepared for us! It’s crystal clear to me now… Wow, such love! Such love!!! Why on earth would we keep your children here so long? We do everything we can to make them stay on this earth. Yes we will miss them but honestly, who would ever keep a child from going home who truly loved that person? Heaven is our home.”

As you can see, there are thoughts here that are in pieces. Currently, I am thankful that God longs for us as He does. I am glad that my Mom no longer suffers but the separation seems so far. I have been angry that she had to be in the hospital like she did. I do not understand why she had to go through that part. But I also realize that sometimes the process is needed for multiple reasons. These reasons I will probably never fully know until I enter Heaven. By that time, the only thing that will matter is meeting the several nurses and doctors that may have come to Jesus because of that time.

As the holidays are starting to loom before us, and life goes on, the ache for my Mom only deepens. It has not yet been 3 months since she entered Heaven and somehow I expect myself to not feel such a deep ache for her. There are some days I do not know how to make it through the next hour. But God is always there to give me the strength that I need in those moments.

If you are currently going through your own loss please know that there is hope. God understands your grief. He is more gracious to you than you probably are to yourself. Go ahead and cry. Give yourself permission to grieve. Cling to God as He carries you through this journey. Never give up. He will show you the beauty in this mess.

Journey Part 3: Waiting and a Moment to Treasure Forever.

The remaining days were filled with many unanswered questions. Long hospital visits make one day feel like it is a week long. We would take turns staying with Mom. When we were not with her, we were down in the cold waiting area. The first couple of days went by without talking with the Doctor. He was in emergency brain surgery attempting to save a life of a man who had been shot in the head several blocks down the road. The wait to hear from the Doctor literally was one of the most torturous things for me. I wanted answers. Every single one of us did.

Each time we would all go see Mom, someone would be looking for positive signs of recovery for her. I would feel this sense of denial mixed with hope. Deep within myself, I prayed that God would heal her here on earth. But to be perfectly honest, deep down, I knew before even flying out to Florida that I would never see my Mom alive on this earth again. It was on the flight to Florida that I finally realized that the last hug I gave her in the airport to see them off to Dominica, would be my last hug from her. It was the reason why I was adamant that I made the trip to see my parents off, even though I had been up the previous night and into the early morning with the worst flu I had since the swine flu.

I remember one particular day where my Dad needed to go purchase clothes as well as other items. My husband, Uncle Nate and myself stayed at the hospital while everyone else went to help Dad. I wanted to spend as much time with my Mom as I possibly could. She could not speak. She was not even awake. When she moved it was random. Each moment that I had with her felt like a precious gift even though the conversation was one sided. But on this particular day, I remember seeing the nurses care for her in ways I had not seen before. They would check the monitors, take blood, turn her over to a different side, and move her tubes down her throat. This was all hard to see as she would cough and gasp for breath. Every beep of the monitor would make my heart race. Because of this I learned how to take long, deep breaths.  Sometimes the room would spin but I was determined to stay as long as I could with my Mom. God was holding me, for I had already collapsed into his loving arms.

Something about this day with her felt different to me. I felt God’s peace in the room more heavily. I began to read more of her favorite passages of scripture. I would read anywhere from 10-20 minutes at a time out loud hoping that she could hear every word. She loved reading her Bible. She loved her precious Savior. After reading to her for some time, the nurses rotated her again. After they left I felt prompted to start talking to her just like the times we would have together over a cup of coffee. Gently placing my hand into her right hand, I felt a squeeze after I told her how much I loved her. The timing was perfect. Some people would say that this was just a coincidence but I know that it was not, and I will forever treasure that moment.

For that one moment felt as if my Mom was hugging my heart.

For that one moment, God was showing me the beauty within the mess of us. He knew exactly what I needed to help get me through what was to come.

Part 2: A Journey into the unknown, heartache and hope

When we made it to Fort Pierce, Florida there were a mingling of feelings. We were all very relieved to be together with our Dad. It was a bittersweet moment as we embraced him, thankful to be with him, yet so filled with sorrow knowing why we were being reunited a month earlier than planned. We were all doing our best to put on brave faces as we held back tears.

The time stretched on for far too long even though only minutes passed before we were headed to the hospital. Even though I knew that God was holding Mom, dread literally filled my heart as I imagined what the next few hours were going to be like, let alone the next few days. I believed that God could heal her but I also knew that sometimes it is best to let others go home to our eternal home, Heaven. As much as God had been preparing me personally for such a time, I felt as though the floor was starting to crumble beneath my feet.

When we made it to the hospital we had to show our ID’s and get our pictures taken for security reasons due to the domestic violence issues in the city. Only two people were allowed to go up to Mom’s room at a time. Since none of us were there right at the beginning of Mom’s admittance to the hospital, they made an exception for all of us to go up together for our first time. We silently followed Dad through the halls that seemed like it would go on forever. Tension filled the waiting area as we were the only family present. I had to remind myself to breathe as the world started to spin.

Two at a time, we took turns going into Mom’s room. When it was my turn with my husband, Jeremy, I knew walking in that my Mom was in a state that she never wanted any of us to see. She had the normal life support tubes and a drainage tube on top of her head to help drain the fluid buildup in her brain. The left side of her face was still limp. Monitors were everywhere and the nurses were never too far to care for her.

At this point there was no more being brave. Tears that had been held back for several hours were now dripping down my face. I searched for her hand in hopes to grab it and feel some sense that she knew that we were there. A part of me was scared to touch her due to my fear that I would hurt her worse. Her chest moved with each breath and every now and then, a small movement from her leg or arm would make me hope that she would be able to move normal again.

I am not sure how long we were with her but it seemed like an instant and forever all at once. Jeremy and I talked to her as if she could hear every single word. I remember telling her that it was so good to see her and that she looked beautiful even on the hospital bed. She never opened her eyes. Her lips never moved. And all this time, deep down inside me, I knew that night that there would be a time soon that I would need to tell her that it was fine for her to go home to Heaven; that it was okay for her to go meet her baby and all those gone before her; and finally run into the arms of Jesus.

But we still had so much to do. There was a huge part of me that hoped for a little more time with my Mom. I hoped beyond hope to be able to see some beauty beyond the damage to her brain. I hoped for no more sorrow. I hoped to see the light in my Dad’s eyes come back again. I prayed that this would not destroy us, for it felt like we were in a whirlwind and there was no knowing when it would end.

Before falling asleep that night I asked God, “Please show us the beauty in this. Please help us. We need you.”