Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Mother's Passing--Saturday, July 19, 2003

(The previous post is here.) At 3:10 p.m. CDT, the phone rang. I sighed. Crystal and I were trying to finish watching Gods and Generals, a movie about General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. We had started the movie the previous night. However, between a late start and having to stop to deal with invading mice, we were unable to complete the 4-hour movie at a reasonable hour. So, reluctantly, I stopped the movie. I knew that the next day was going to be busy and that we would need our sleep. At the time, I did not realize how true this would be. I paused the movie. We were in the middle of a scene when his wife comes to visit him in his sickroom. Jackson had already been shot and had his left arm amputated. His wife is understandably upset and tells Jackson that she is praying for him. He smiles and praises her, but reminds her that she should always pray “Thy will be done”. I know my history. I know that Jackson dies of his wounds. I know now that it was a sign. I picked up the phone. It was my sister Adiel. She had some bad news. Mom had been stung by a bee and had a heart attack. She was in the emergency room in critical condition. I was stunned. It was not what I had been expecting to hear. I called some friends to ask them to be praying. One of them asked me, “So, when are you leaving?” At that moment the thought bubbled to the surface of my mind, “Maybe I should go.” The Lansberrys quite graciously offered to watch my children so that Crystal and I could hurry to Erie. At the time, I thought that my mother was going to be very ill and that she would like to see me. But I assumed that she would recover. Soon, we were all packed in the van and were ready to go. All we were waiting for was the assistant pastor, who was driving over to pray with us and see us off. At the time, I was chomping at the bit to get moving and was impatient for the pastor to arrive. It was a blessing that we had to wait, though. Just as he pulled up, I received another call. It was from my brother Jonathan, and the news was not good. Mom’s kidneys were failing, and the doctor wasn’t sure if she was going to make it. And at that moment, I realized that my mother might not recover. More delay. The assistant pastor pointed out that our van might not make the trip and offered to rent us a car. I really wanted to get going immediately, but he was right. So, while Crystal took the children to the Lansberry residence, he took me to rent a car. It was the first of many blessings that I was to experience throughout this time. By the time we were ready to get on the road, it was 8:00 CDT. Under the best of circumstances, it is an 11-hour drive from Peoria to Erie. A quick stop at McDonald’s and then we would be off. And then, another call from Jonathan. The doctor was fairly sure that Mom was brain-dead. Only time would tell. Hope for a recovery was almost gone. In my mind, I knew that she was going to die. We started driving and called the Lansberrys to tell them the news. Jay asked if he should get on the road with the children. I sighed. To say “Yes” was to admit that a funeral could be looming in our future. But to say “No” was to deny reality. So I told them to come. We were in Indiana when Jonathan called again. It was 11:30 local time. He had a simple message: Mom had died. When I heard the news, I was fairly peaceful. I knew that it was coming, but I also think that God blessed me with His peace in that moment. When Crystal hung up, she looked out the window and pointed at the sky. There, rising above the horizon, was the moon. But it was not its normal silver color. Rather, it was blood-red as it rose. It was as though God had permitted the moon itself to mourn for my mother. It was the press of practicalities that broke me. Originally, Crystal and I were going to stay with my sister Elizabeth and her husband Tom. Now, we would have our three children, plus the Lansberrys and their five children. I had no idea where we were going to sleep. The thought ran through my head, “Call Mom. She’ll be able to figure this out.” Then I remembered that she was dead. And so, somewhere in Indiana, I pulled off the road and into the parking lot of a gas station. And there I fell into my wife’s arms and sobbed. “My mommy is dead. My mommy is dead.” (The next post is here.)


Blogger prairie girl said...


Comforting words from Thomas Watson:

"Afflictions work for good, as they are the means of loosening our hearts from the world. When you dig away the earth from the root of a tree, it is to loosen the tree from the earth; so God digs away our earthly comforts to loosen our hearts from the earth. A thorn grows up with every flower. God would have the world hang as a loose tooth which, being twitched away, does not much trouble us. Is it not good to be weaned? The oldest saints need it. Why does the Lord break the conduit-pipe, but that we may go to HIm, in whom are 'all our fresh springs.' (Psalm 87:7'"

Just wanted you to know that I will be praying for you and your family on this difficult day.


7/19/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger greenemama said...


7/19/2005 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Seth Ben-Ezra said...

Thank you, Mollie.

You know, it's been two years, and sometimes that's far enough away. But then, sometimes, it's not far enough.

I remember reading Mom's obituary once, where it lists her children, starting with me: "Seth Ben-Ezra of Peoria, Illinois". And, for just a moment, I was struck with such an intense guilt that I wasn't there when she died. I managed to beat down the feeling, since it was silly. But it was there, just for a moment.

Grief is a strange thing. It can lie dormant for so long, and then it rises back up for no apparent reason. Well, I guess that there are reasons sometimes. Unlike Gabrielle, I didn't hold it together during Mother's Day. But, just the day before, I had written that I was doing well, and that I could think about Mom's death without losing control. It comes and goes, and I don't know why.

7/19/2005 10:31:00 AM  

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