This is my favorite time of the year. Fall! I loved saying good-bye to the unseasonably hot and longer than usual Tennessee summer. It’s always a nice good-bye for me. I love the crispness in the air that accompanies the beautiful face of autumn.
Fall now brings more to me than just the normal much awaited seasonal changes. It holds memories that are still very fresh. It brings back the memory of October 23, 2014, the day I said good-bye to my mother. It was a long good-bye. I flew to Texas to spend a week with my parents having no clue that that 7 day planned visit would turn into 20. Just two days before my arrival, she stopped eating. It’s what happens during the last stage of Alzheimer’s. Usually the good-bye comes quickly, but not this time . . .
The memories of those days are so very clear. They are beautiful. They are brutal. My Mother was trying to say her goodbye to this world. My sister was fighting to live – enduring the hardest season of her cancer journey.
I can’t help but be reminded of something we talked about in a Bible Study I’m leading called “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit”. It’s a study taken from the book of Ruth. In that study the author mentions a phrase that’s really stuck in my mind – “Just so happened.” Ruth is a widow who made a choice to leave the land of Moab and make her home with her mother-in-law in the land of Israel. When they arrive Ruth knows she needs to find a way to provide food for the two of them. She goes to a field to pick up grain that is left from the harvesters, an acceptable practice of the culture at this time. “So Ruth went and gleaned in the field behind the reapers. She just so happened to be in the field of Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s family.” Ruth 2:3 Elimelech was her father-in-law who died in Moab. It just so happens that Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son. That son is the great-grandfather of King David of the tribe of Judah. That’s quite a “just so happened”! God orchestrated quite an event here. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah!
The story of Ruth and Boaz is part of God’s narrative that is huge. But, my narrative is a big deal to God, too, and so is everyone else’s. It’s these “just so happened” moments that always continue to remind me of how much God loves me and cares about the way things unfold in my life. They are not haphazard. They have purpose and meaning, richness and depth.
For it just so happened:
- Months earlier a friend had let me borrow her DVD’s of our late beloved pastor’s sermons on Heaven. I just happened to have put them in my suitcase. I had my computer and watched them just outside of Mother’s room.
- I had the opportunity to ask for forgiveness from my mother for the times I know I let her down.
- My sister and I had time to fill the house with music as we played the piano and sang songs that we all loved.
- My daddy had the chance to say some needed words of endearment.
- When in the middle of despair a text or a phone call came that gave me words I needed to hear.
- God was putting together a plan for a date, a place, and perfectly skilled doctors for my sister to have one the most complicated surgeries a person could ever have that would happen in just a few weeks. This surgery meant life for her weakening body.
- I woke up early that morning, October 23rd, and decided to sit beside Mother during my morning devotion. Not sure why, but I landed in Psalm 119.
I read each verse of that long chapter out loud to Mother. It just so happened that immediately after I read that last verse, verse 176, Mother took her last breath on this earth. The good-bye to Mother had been much longer than any of us could have anticipated. God’s ways are beyond our understanding. But, one thing I know: pure joy and adventure was just beginning for her. Someone has said: Every beginning has an end, and every end has a beginning. This is one beginning that has no end. C.S. Lewis says this eloquently in “The Voyage”
“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Are we living today with that great chapter One in mind? As my former pastor, Bro. Glenn Weekley, said in one of his sermons on Heaven: Our purpose on this earth includes preparing for life there. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18
Kristi, such beautiful words shared so eloquently in your blog. Yes, you are so right God has a plan if even at the time we might not recognize it. As we get older, we face many things that change our life. We come face to face with our mortality and with those we married their mortality. We move through our life knowing God is there, but it is when we hit a bump or bumps in the road that we receive the knowledge and reassurance needed that we are not alone in this situation whatever it may be. When we are at our lowest point, God sends us that phone call, text, or visitor just at the right time. I can relate to saying goodbye to parents. I did that with my mom, too. I have a saying in my life. It is don’t put your faith and trust in man who will only disappoint you, but put your faith and trust in God. So many people worship persons and then they are disappointed in them. The last eight months have been a testimony to this. Ned had not been feeling well, but he kept saying there was nothing wrong with him being tired all.of the time. Finally, I had to take matters into my own hands, and God was right on time with his intervention. Ned had two stents placed in his arteries of his heart, and one of those arteries was almost totally occluded. We were so close to bypass surgery. Now he is feeling much better, and so am I. It is interesting to think about our heavenly journey which could start at anytime for any of us. Keep writing your blog. I am sure God is using you for such a time as this.
I’m so grateful Ned is doing better and that you were alert and knew when to step in. That’s truly God’s movement and direction. You are so right in saying that we must learn to trust God and keep our eyes on Him and not man. It’s what gets us through a lot of dark times and helps us keep going. Yes, it’s definitely a new type of season for us with unexpected turns. We continue holding onto the Rock that’s always there. Blessings to you!
Kristi, Thank you for sharing your beautiful good bye to your sweet mom. Trying to make sense of loss is the most difficult thing in the world. Loss due to terrible diseases make it difficult to understand why precious friends and family have to endure such pain and put their families through such loss. However; your words are comforting and give us hope of a better place for not only our precious ones but reminds us of the promise we will see them again. We are in the midst of changing seasons with my mom and dad. It is difficult to watch and difficult to make so many decisions for their well being. David and I have been forced to endure so much loss and heartache, but I think it was God’s plan to bring us a precious Grandson to prove to us life goes on. ~Not to replace our Matthew or to distract us from our Matthew, but to give us hope for the future and bring us a much needed smile. I only hope that Troy in some way can know that he is a Granddad to a beautiful little Harvey Ross. Again, thank you for sharing. Sorry I got off the track some. I just want you to know I understand and feel your sorrow. Love you…
Stephanie, I know these are hard days for you as you see your sweet parents face aging difficulties and then the grief that still remains over losing David. These are places of deep pain, and yet what joy God has brought into your lives with a precious grandson. I have a feeling Troy gets to somehow join in that joy. This morning is the second anniversary of Mother’s memorial service. I had the “Lullaby” station of Pandora on which sometimes plays old hymns. One that came on was the exact hymn medley that was played as prelude music. I couldn’t help but wonder why God allowed that. Of course, I knew one reason was so I could just remember that day, and what it meant, but can’t help but believe there was more to it. Perhaps, Mother was enjoying it with me, too. She could’ve even been playing the piano in Heaven at that precise moment. Bro. Glenn said in one of his messages on Heaven that he believes we will get to continue doing those things we love, so this makes a lot of sense to me.
I will certainly be praying for you and your parents during this hard season. Be blessed, my Friend. Love you.
Thank you so much Kristi! Your thoughts are beautifully expressed and you bring depth and understanding to grief and loss and remind us that death is just a transition. Thank you for your words!
Yes, the years pass quickly and we need one another for encouragement and strength when there is loss, always helping each other to walk in the hope we have because of the God we know and love.