We buried mom on Good Friday
Exactly 6 days is what we had from taking her to the hospital with excruciating lower back pain to saying goodbye. We brought her home in a hospital bed and faced her to the garden and a picture of my dad. Multiple myeloma was a surprise and had unknowingly spread throughout her entire body.
Six days is an eternity when watching your loved one suffer, but it’s not nearly enough time to adjust to the thought of life without the heart and soul of your family. Your constant north star. The one who loves you no matter what. It was unthinkable. But who had time to think about anything, anyway?
So here I am, two months after her death, working through the enormous challenge of sorting her personal things, deciding who gets what family heirlooms, reading love letters written to her from my Dad, crying with my brother and sisters as we recall happy childhood memories in the house, and having lots of time to think. Sorting through emotions as I sort through her shoes.
At this point in my life…
I have been both the cancer patient and the caregiver of a cancer patient. I’ve been the one in the bed wondering at my own outcome with stage 4 ovarian cancer, mom at my side. Fast forward, and I am holding my mom’s hand, telling her the hard things the doctor is saying.
And I can tell you that both sides suck. Let’s not sugar coat it, ok?
I’m reminded of the old Joni Mitchell song (sung by Judy Collins), Both Sides Now.
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall,
I really don’t know life at all
Despair, loss, and heartache abound in life. Hard things come to all of us.
What to do?
Easter Sunday was two days after her funeral. Resurrection Day. The most important date on the Christian calendar; the central event of our belief. Easter comes around every year, and we sing songs of celebration, dress our best and say, yes, “He is Risen, Indeed!” We believe it, are thankful God loves us that much… yet when the day is over, do we continue to live like Easter People?
Our pastor, Scott McDermott talked on Easter about the women who came to the tomb early that morning, at sunrise. This means they began their journey to the tomb in darkness. I had never given that much thought. Have you? They arrived at the tomb as the sun was just beginning to rise.
They began their journey in darkness and walked into the light
When you have been given a cancer diagnosis, you begin your walk in the darkness. You constantly replay the bad news in your mind; what the doctor has told you, stories you have heard from other people, possible outcomes. The downward spiral begins and we stumble around in darkness, not trusting there is light ahead.
When your heart is broken over a loss, it’s impossible to believe you will ever be happy again. Bad news and sorrow can squeeze the life out of us, just as a chef can squeeze every last drop of juice out of a lemon, twisting and pressing in on every side.
We can’t believe that goodness and mercy is following us or that the goodness of God will ever find us.
But Guess What??
God absolutely works in the dark. He makes a way for us. He will bring you a new day!
The Bible tells us that God comforts the brokenhearted. He is in the comfort and restoration business. He restored his son to prove it.
The word comfort means to console or soothe when in grief or trouble. But the root of the word comfort is in the Latin word comfortare, which means to strengthen greatly, or fortify.
So comfort is not just a pat on the back to say “I understand” with a hug and reassurance, but is also meant to equip you and strengthen you, to fortify you for the future. A practical God provides practical and useful comfort.
How about those apples?
I think God knows what he is doing, don’t you? I mean, wouldn’t you much rather be equipped and fortified than fall apart at the seams?
I know I would
Sure, I fell apart when I got the cancer diagnosis. I fell apart when my mom took her last breath here on earth. Both times, I stumbled around in the dark, feeling and finding my way.
As I said, hard stuff happens to everyone. But aren’t we Easter People? Not just Easter People one day of every year, but people who live with the promise of God’s goodness and light every single day?
Let’s look to God for the consolation we desire and the greater strengthening we need for the road ahead.
Let’s walk from the darkness into our sunrise.