Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Mother’s Passing, Two Years Later

(The previous post is here.) It’s been two years since I wrote about the passing of my mother. At the time, I recorded what I had learned. Well, I’ve learned more since then. I’ve learned that the pain of a loss can linger. It has been two years, but when I read my journal entries, it all comes crashing back on me as if it were yesterday. I still have not finished watching Gods and Generals, nor do I think that I ever shall. Mother’s Day rattles me. Sometimes, I think about Noah and the baby still within Crystal’s womb, and I know that they will never know their grandmother. It has been two years, but the pain lives on. I’ve learned to respect my father. I don’t want to sound like I thought lowly of him before, but I have learned so much from him over the past two years as I have watched him put his life back together after this tragic blow. It wasn’t always easy, and I know that the pain still lingers. Yet he has continued to live after Mom died; indeed, he has flourished. I know that, someday in the future, either Crystal or I will die. It is not a pleasant thought. But, should Crystal precede me in death, I will know how I ought to live, because I have watched my father. I’ve learned that The Plan is a lie. According to The Plan, you are born, grow up, go to college, get married, have children, marry them off, enjoy your grandchildren, grow old together, and finally fade away into the night. But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, into the middle of The Plan, God sends a bee, and nothing is ever the same. I’ve learned that I am afraid. I know now that Death can strike anywhere, and it scares me. When Gabrielle or Crystal is running late, the thought flashes through my mind, “Is she dead?” Sometimes I hold onto the last words that someone has said to me. Who knows? Those might be the last words that this person will ever tell me. Visions torment me, images of those I love, mutilated in car accidents, burned alive in fires, crushed by a collapsing building. And I know that this is sin, and I crawl to God and pour it before His feet, because I don’t want to be afraid. And yet, I am. I’ve learned that I don’t need to fear the trials of the future now. Despite my fears, I am learning that God provides grace in the time of trial…but rarely beforehand. My father can tell me, honestly and sincerely, that Mom’s death was the best thing that happened to him, and I believe that he is right. However, I know that it is only by the grace of God that he can say that, grace that he received in the midst of the fiery trial. I do not need to be afraid of the trials that the future holds. My resources are insufficient for them, but God will give me what I need, when I need it. I’ve learned that Jesus uses all things for His glory. Even death is not exempt. As a simple example, Gabrielle would not be here in Peoria if Mom were still alive, which means that she would not be able to minister to Kathey. And, on those days that I can think lucidly about it, I can see how it might be possible how it really is all going according to plan. Even this. Even this. And so, I turn to my wife and give her a kiss, and I settle into bed. Because I’ve also learned that the present is a gift from God, which we should enjoy. Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil--this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. (Ecclesiates 5:18-20) (The final post is here.)

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