May we cherish the moments we have with those we love and love them like there is no tomorrow!
Christmas Eve, 2006 would be the last time we would see mom this side of heaven.
As you might imagine, having to say goodbye to your mother on Christmas Eve, is a painful experience, to say the least. Christmases will forever be bittersweet.
My mother was a woman who was full of life...fun, smart, witty, talented, kind, generous, with a heart filled with love and tenderness. Life was good because of her...life was so good!
During the last four years of her life, she resided in a nursing home. She was experiencing complications due to strokes and was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia which is a form of dementia due to the strokes she suffered. Ultimately this disease of the brain robs one of their ability to function in every way.
As time passes, the pain of losing her lessens slightly, but I will never stop missing her... I long to see her smile...to have a conversation....to sit and hold her hand...to hear her voice again. My mom's voice was beautiful...she had a smooth, articulate speaking voice and she sang beautifully as well. In the last couple of years, she no longer could speak...but she could still sing...although without words. She had received a nickname of the little birdie from a few of the nurses, because Annie's (mom's) voice resonated through the hallways!
When I would arrive for a visit, my mom would light up with an enormous smile and clap her hands and wiggle her toes with excitement! It was a merciful gift from God that she still recognized me and was so happy to see me each time I arrived!
We had a long, slow, good-bye. Since I understood the end was inevitable I see that as another form of mercy. If I had lost her suddenly, as close as we were, I know it would have been even more difficult to say goodbye. In all of God's wisdom, He prepared her path and prepared our hearts.
I still remember her last breath...it was the softest, most gentle, peaceful puff of air as mom ascended from her body into heaven. I pictured the angels waiting for her with fanfare to celebrate her homecoming, and we all agreed that this evening....Christ's birthday...was the perfect time for mom to go home. She loved the Lord...and a party...so what better way for her to enter the gates of heaven than on Christ's birthday! We knew she was finally whole again and celebrating in the presence of God.
After my brother, sister-in law and I said our final goodbyes...I stayed behind to spend one last minute with her. I hugged her still warm body, and I languished in the moment as it penetrated my entire being and made a lasting imprint on my heart. I breathed in that sweet, familiar scent of mom's skin and vowed to never forget it. Oddly enough, to this day, when I think of that moment, I instantly recall her sweet scent as it is etched permanently in my mind and soul.
So...yes...Christmas is bittersweet. Bitter to say goodbye to the person who brought me into the world...and then to watch her leave it. But sweet to know that this is not the end...Annie's (mom's) life did not end on Christmas Eve...it entered into the master's plan of eternity with Him!
As I celebrate with family, and we enjoy the same cookies mom made year after year, and celebrate the same traditions we have held throughout our lifetime, we also have a deeper connection as we glance across the table, with an unspoken remembrance of that moment four years ago when we kissed her goodbye.
I feel almost privileged (if the right choice of words) that we experienced the very reason for Christ's birth, death, and resurrection in the most profound way that Christmas Eve...because to see our loved one enter eternity right before our eyes on this day was a powerful reminder of what it is all about!
With the joy of salvation and the promise of life eternal through Jesus Christ, we will see each other again...laugh together...sing together...dance together...live, yes live together...On Glory's Side!
This is the song I chose to play at my mom's memorial service -- a sweet reminder:
And a few days later, I was inspired to write the following poem:
On Glory's side:
No tears appear on glory's side,
Nothing to fear, no reason to hide,
For glory is a safe and wondrous home,
All cares are vanished like a vapor,
And fears are swept off by the wind,
All questions now are being answered,
No more doubts and no more sin.
How beautiful is this sweet sweet glory,
How bright and full of life,
Love surrounds us pure and holy,
No more pain and no more strife.
Oh glory, how I ached for you,
Before I really understood,
That glory is a wondrous home,
Of peace and brotherhood.
And so dear friends there is a plan,
Don't fear what lies on glory's side,
But grab hold of glory's hand,
And in God's care and love abide.
For tears are gone and joy remains,
On the side of glory,
The celebration can't be explained,
Or written in a story.
It's only when you've crossed the line,
Into glory's care,
That you'll finally understand,
How perfect it is there.
So grab hold of glory's hand,
And in God's care and love abide,
And trust the master's perfect plan
To find your home on glory's side.
(written by Lorraine Brown, copyright 2006)