One month ago, today, my mama stopped breathing.
And never started up again.
She moved from this world into eternity.
She slipped her mortal coil.
Why are all those phrases easier to say than the actual word? All those poetic euphemisms to avoid the stark reality. I guess because even thinking the actual word makes me cry.
She moved on. She gained her heavenly reward. She went to be with Jesus.
It happened early in the afternoon of Christmas day. (“It happened”…still avoiding the word.) We’re two hours ahead of my family on the West Coast, so we were done unwrapping gifts, done snacking (temporarily), and the kids had even moved their loot into their respective rooms. My husband, Colin, was on his ipad, doing whatever it is that he does on his ipad, and I was sitting in the middle of the mess, reading a beautiful book that a friend had given me, a book full of kindness and wisdom and love. I was feeling sentimental. Cozy. Thankful.
Colin’s phone rang. I could tell by his voice that it was family. I expected a, “Yes, she’s right here,” but instead there came, “Ah. Uh huh. Okay.”
Colin hung up and turned to me.
“They’re giving your mom CPR.” He said it gently. But really, there’s no way to gentle those words. No euphemism for breathing air into your mother’s congested lungs.
I looked back down at my book, automatically, as if to make sure that the world still looked the same as it had before this monumental shift. But the words before me blurred. The whole room, really, faded away to be replaced with a distorted mind’s view of my sister’s living room, gifts unopened, children’s excitement turned to confusion, my medically-trained sister and brother-in-law doing all they could, my dad…oh, dear, Lord, my dad.
Colin told the kids, who wandered, empty-handed, full-hearted, to sit, awkwardly, in the living room again, wrapping paper still strewn about, stockings unhung by the chimney with care. Somehow I stood, moved to the mudroom for something, I have no idea why, talking of I know not what. Colin joined me, let me finish my words, stepped to me and took me into his arms.
“Your mom’s gone,” he whispered. “Patrick texted.”
Gone. Another euphemism. Another way to gentle the concept that the world as I knew it had ended.
I don’t blame Patrick for texting. Words are easier to write than to say. I’m thankful he’d called to give the first news.
It all happened so quickly. Ten minutes? I don’t even know. Fast. Gone. Such short words that say so much.
Our son read some Scripture. I made tea, because that’s what Mom would have done. We hugged and cried and made more tea. Mom’s parents were Scottish, and tea cures all.
Only it couldn’t cure this.
This = death.
There. I said it.
I’ll say more, later, but for now I leave you with this…
This = hope:
“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:55-57
No, tea can’t cure death.
But that’s okay. Because Jesus already did.