The flaming red and orange leaves, illuminated by the late fall sun, cast a glow on the beautiful cemetery grounds. Stepping onto the grass where she lay caused my heart to stop, for just a moment, as I caught my breath and remembered that I was standing on holy ground. “I’m here…I love you…” I hear myself murmur through a tearful whisper.
It’s been almost 8 weeks since my beloved mother has gone home to heaven. Life has continued for all of us – a new life, a different life – a life without her physical presence. For those left behind, it takes a lot of courage and faith to embark on this new life and it is difficult. Anyone who has lost a beloved family member knows this. The funny thing is that my inspiration to go on without her is actually her! Mom’s life example is precisely what propels me forward each and every day. Without her, I don’t think I could get out of bed in the morning.
Looking back to September 3, 2016, I am amazed at Mom’s faith and courage in the midst of her final difficult days on this earth. I wrote the following journal entry while in the Hospice Center with her:
“Liz and I slept on the little cot together – willing the sound of Mom’s breath from across the room. We finally fell asleep only to be awoken several times by the loving nurses and aides who came in throughout the night to give her meds.
This morning Mom has a surprise for us. After not responding for over 24 hours, she let us know that she hears us. Dad and I were talking to her and I reminded her of the Blessed Mother’s love for her. I placed a favorite statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her bed, near her face, and she began to moan. Then I proceeded to tell her how much Mary loves her and that it was okay to take her hand – Mary would lead her to God where she would experience total love and peace. At that moment she cringed her eyes and moaned again, in acknowledgment of my words.
Mom knows exactly what we are saying and exactly what is going on. God has His plans and His timing is perfect. I have seen that unfold over these past few days. Mom has said goodbye to everyone who has needed her – always giving, she is affirming family members of her love for them even in her sedentary state. Because she is such a light, a rock in so many people’s lives, Mom knows that they need this in order to continue on in their lives.
Then Emma, Bella and I prayed a rosary around Mom. After we were finished I asked her if she heard us. Not expecting an answer since she has been unresponsive for days, you can imagine how surprised I was when she murmured a quiet yes.”
When I reread this journal entry tonight, I was astounded by Mom’s courage and faith. After pondering it for sometime, I think she would like me to encourage all of us to dig deep and find our faith especially in the midst of darkness and uncertainty in our lives. Without it, we are lost. With God, we can do anything. Without Him, we just wander aimlessly like lost sheep. Mom was called on to dig deep many times in her own life, especially in the last 3 years with her cancer battle. She struggled just like us but was able to overcome the difficult times with faith in God and courage to go the distance.
Pain and suffering do bring struggle in our lives, but that is not the end of the story. Mom knew that! Today’s gospel is a wonderful reminder about the gift and power of the resurrection. Death isn’t the end – Jesus rises – joy returns. Luke tells us that “He is God of the living.” In his homily, Father Windham reminded us that we will see our loved ones again and be reunited with them forever.
So tomorrow when I return to the beautiful little cemetery to bid farewell to Mom for another week, I’ll do so with a slightly different outlook. Despite pain or suffering in life – God prevails – joy returns and we will be reunited with those we love. Until then, I owe it to Mom to be courageous and faithful while in this world, so that I may be with her forever in the next. After all, she hears…