But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)
As many of you know my mother wrote poetry. She was never formally published but I wish we had pursued that while she was alive. She was in a poetry writing group for a while and had a few published in a couple of newspapers. She also generously shared poems with others when she felt a poem had a message that could encourage the person in whatever circumstance they found themselves. If you have a handwritten copy of one of her poems I hope you keep it as a treasure.
I promised her when she was in hospice that I was going to see that her poetry was published for the whole world to read. I have published a few on my blog, but I have plans, God willing to do a book of her poetry. Most of her poems were written in the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties. They were actually quite good; some, a little rough around the edges, needing some final editing.
In 1975 during Holy Week, on Good Friday, she wrote an Easter Poem and titled it Hallelujah. Because of the repeating refrain of This is Easter Morn I thought about changing the title of the poem but decided that the whole concept of Easter is definitely one big Hallelujah and that must be how she felt about it, so I left her title. I’d like to share it with you:
Happy Easter! I hope you find a church and attend on Easter Sunday to Worship our Risen Savior!
Celebrating in Grace,
If you haven’t read it yet, I shared a whole series about losing my Mom to Alzheimer’s. I shared a few of her poems throughout the series. You can click here to check it out.
As Christmas draws near I am realizing just how much not having my Mom with me this year hurts. I know I am not alone in missing someone. Several of you who read have also lost loved ones and you know that tug and pull of celebrating while grieving.
We will make new memories this year but the air will be palpable with longing for those who are not present. One of the new memories for our family will be taking Roses to my mom’s grave in honor of what would have been her and Dad’s 59th wedding anniversary. He had been giving her roses for the past several years.
I think that is what hurts the most – knowing that my Dad has lost his bride. He married her on Christmas Day in 1959 and he loved her well through all the years they had. I remember the week she was in Hospice he held her hand and told her that he had loved her for 58 years and would never stop loving her. I know she heard him because she tried to tell him that she loved him. We heard the word love. It was one of the last moments that we knew she was still somewhat aware of us. A moment we will treasure.
Two hearts entwined; inseparable LBT
Christmas is Love. The greatest love ever given to us was the birth of Jesus. It is because of his love that we are capable of loving. It is because of his love that my parents were able to celebrate so many years together and raise their children to know Jesus. I know my mom loved Jesus. She would tell me that she wanted to see Jesus. In the midst of the Alzheimer’s she still knew who Jesus was and she would talk about him.
This year she is celebrating Christmas with Jesus. She is having the ultimate Christmas and so even though I miss her terribly and know that Christmas will be bittersweet this year I am rejoicing with her that she is experiencing the greatest love of all this Christmas.
She has received the gift that was anticipated for so long. Her long-expected Saviour has arrived. As we are celebrating the Advent of Christmas, we too can wait expectantly for the Christ-child. We can open our hearts to receive him. He will be our comfort and help us navigate the missing, the longing, the memories and the hope of one day being reunited.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
I’ve been wearing my mom’s socks; it makes me feel close to her. It is one of the ways I am navigating through grief these days and finding moments of peace during the Advent Season.
I’ve also been seeing her in my dreams. she usually doesn’t say anything; she’s not even necessarily a main part of the dream and I don’t remember all the details. it’s like watching a movie and there are people walking down the street or in the background. you see them but they’re not part of the main movie.
When she does show up in my dreams she looks like she did in her fifties. She’s dressed stylishly with her hair pulled back and she’s walking with confidence and purpose. She looks happy and peaceful.It’s seeing her like she was before the Alzheimer’s. I think these are little gifts that God has been giving me to reassure me that all is well. To remind me that she is whole now and complete in him. I still miss her terribly but I wouldn’t bring her back even if I could. She’s dancing with Jesus and I would not take that away from her.
A few nights ago the funeral home that handled her arrangements hosted a memorial service for those who had lost loved ones this year. It was a sweet simple service that began with singing Joy to the world, followed by a message that allowed us to acknowledge our grief and accept it while encouraging us to find comfort and peace in laying our grief at the feet of Jesus.
The service ended with the song I can only imagine. When they sang the line about dancing or standing in awe I told my husband and father that I’m sure mom was dancing for Jesus. She was full of life and laughter and even in the most horrible ravages of Alzheimer’s that still Shone through.
Sitting in the sanctuary of the local Baptist Church hearing the scriptures read, listening to the words so aptly spoken, hearing the songs of worship, I began to notice that there was such a sweet spirit of peace wrapping around us. It was a peace brought on by the presence of the Lord among us but also a peace brought on by the collective grief of those present and the knowledge that we are all walking the same journey.
Even though our grief manifests itself in various ways it is still a common thread that binds us together. We know how the others feel and we know that God is our only peace.
I am thankful for that service and the reminder that it gives to me during this season of celebration.
A reminder that even in our grief we can still celebrate happy times, we can embrace our loved ones, live life fully and honor those we have lost by remembering them and making room for the grief. Joy and sorrow are not an either-or choice; they are allowed to reside together in our hearts and bring us peace and comfort.
whatever grief you are feeling during this season of Advent I pray you are leaving your heart open to be filled with God’s peace.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
When last we spoke, well when last I wrote and you read which is still a conversation between friends, I shared with you that I wanted to do a recap post of the 31 Days of Grief Journey. I wanted to share what I had gleaned. I had planned to do that sooner than now but last week proved to be a week of needing extra rest. I’ve learned, due to the MCTD, to hold on loosely to plans and go with the flow. I think, too, that I needed some extra time to let the writing settle before revisiting.
So, earlier I sat down and read through the series to see what stood out to me. To discover what wisdom there might be that I could take away. To see what helped me and how can I summarize that for all of us as a take away to remember; knowing of course, that the journey is not over and there are more stores, memories, and lessons in the process. And of course, the ever-present grief will ebb and flow. Below is a list of 12 truths that I received from this journey.
Writing through my grief was designed by God; It was a calling he put on my heart (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Grief is a process and it can’t be rushed. There will be times it will crush your heart (Psalm 31:18).
Even when we feel betrayed by God, he loves us and understands our hurt. He will make all things right in his time (Isaiah 55:8-9).
We can never truly lose our loved ones, they will always live in our hearts. Remembering is necessary. Our memories of good times with our loved ones is a source of comfort (Philippians 1:3).
Having a community of friends and family for support in our grief is important (Proverbs 27:9).
In the midst of our grief life does go on. We can still find joy and laughter. We can find peace in ordinary days (Psalm 23:1).
The floodgates will open sooner or later. Our tears are sacred and Jesus cares about them; they are collected in his bottle (Psalm 56:8).
Reading Scripture can be a source of strength. Remembering his promises can sustain us (Isaiah 40:31).
He will be our comfort (Isaiah 63:13, Matthew 5:4).
If we sit in the stillness we will feel his peace (Philippians 4:7).
we have to live in the reality of heaven’s sweetness in order to truly be at peace in this life (Hebrews 13:14, Psalm 30:11-12).
Christ is our only hope (John 3:16).
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5b
Joy resides deep in our soul. Grief is not the absence of joy, but the realization that even when we grieve we hold on to joy. Joy is not crushed by our grief but rather sustains us in our grief.
The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. I hope it has touched your heart and brought you encouragement. If you have not read the series you can click hereto be taken to the table of contents page. Once there, clicking on each title will take you to that day’s post. I will continue to share updates on the grief journey and share stories about my Mom from time to time as well as sharing other writings. I hope you come back. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Today was a day of crying and praying and missing my Mom. Of all the people in the world that I can talk to and tell anything, she was always the one I could be the freest with. The one I could count on to comfort me and pray for me; to love me and forgive me when needed. So today was just a day that I really wish I could talk to her. Some days I miss her so much. I need her love, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and care. I know there will always be days like today and it won’t be easy but I know God can be my comfort. I can go to him. I can take him my heart; I can ask for strength. He is faithful. He loves me even more than my mother.
I miss my Ladybug and our late night talks; our inside jokes and laughter; our trips to the Dairy Queen when we’d sneak off without telling the guys; The drives we took in the country when we were restless. I miss all of it. I love her so much.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT
One of the things I miss the most is talking to my Mom. Before the Alzheimer’s took so much away from her we would talk constantly. I’d call her or she’d call me and we’d talk about everything and nothing in particular.
Even after the Alzheimer’s I’d call home, Dad would answer the phone but I’d always ask to talk to Mom. Sometimes she’d talk a while, other times she’d have trouble with the phone. Eventually, she pretty much gave up talking on the phone.
I missed our talks even while she was still living. There were times I’d tell her things knowing that she didn’t fully comprehend, or remember later, but at the moment she’d try to let me know all would be well.
A few months before she died we had a wonderful conversation about forgiveness. I’d recently been short with her. I told her that I was wrong and hadn’t treated her as kindly as I should have. We talked about forgiveness in general and what it means and I asked her if she would forgive me. She ever so sweetly said yes she would. Even though she probably didn’t remember the incident in question and probably didn’t remember our conversation later, at that moment she understood my need to ask forgiveness and she sincerely, without question granted it. Much like she had several years earlier when I had needed to ask for forgiveness. (you can read about that time here)
Growing up, forgiveness always flowed freely. If Mom and I had had a particularly trying day as can sometimes happen, she always made sure before bed that all was well between us. We would talk things out and I always knew she was there for me. Even as a small child I remember kneeling beside her to pray about whatever was troubling me. Being the melancholy child that I was it seemed I was always needing to pray or talk about something.
That did not change as a teenager. We had lots of adventures together. I remember one summer or two that she spent a lot of time driving me around the countryside chasing a dream of a piano player (not Rocky, that came later) that I thought I was in love with. I also remember having many late night conversations about boys, dreams, life. It was nothing to stay up until the crack of dawn talking. Even after I had married and moved away from home, we always had at least one all-night talk session when I’d come for visits. Rocky and Dad would come downstairs of a morning and there we’d be still sitting on the couch.
Later, when Rocky came on the scene I wrote her a letter telling her that I was in love and I knew he was the one. I was in college and cell phones and Facebook didn’t exist, so you either made a long distance call or wrote a letter. I found that letter last year when going through some of her things. She had kept it all these years. I know my Mama’s level of sentimentality and I know she hung onto that letter to mark a significant time in my life that she rejoiced in with me.
I’ve always shared my everyday life with her. Each new adventure, each crisis, everyday moments. It was all chronicled with her. And she never failed to cheer me onor commiserate when necessary. Every new move she was there helping and planning with me even when it took me too far from home. She never tried to hold me back, but always rejoiced at each new opportunity.
She did tell me, as she grew older, that she missed her daughters and wished they could both move back home. She once offered to give my sister her house if she’d move back home. And my mom really loved her house. She is now buried on the hill facing her house. When Rocky and I moved to Louisville in 2007 she was glad we were closer. She and Dad would come to visit and we would go see them when we could.
In 2010 when we went in with Dad to purchase the house next door to them she was excited for us to fix up the house and be there on breaks, but before we could spend much time there the Alzheimer’s was fast approaching. When we moved there in the summer of 2012 between the seminary and whatever was to come next, it was clear that Alzheimer’s had set in and we were needed. I know it was a God thing that we had decided to buy the house two years prior when it didn’t really make sense to do so. We had no long-term plans of settling back home once schooling was finished, but home was exactly where we needed to be.
Living there was as it should be. Mom was restless a lot and had lots of questions about everything in the early days. She would come to my house for reassurance or sometimes just to chat a moment. The door was always open for her and sometimes she’d be back and forth several times a day. We’d have the same conversations, mostly with her trying to make sense of the muddle in her mind. Memoires were hiding and bits and pieces would show up and she’d need me to help her make sense of it all. She trusted me and I did all I could to honor that trust.
Even in the difficulty of living with Alzheimer’s, we had some good times and lots of laughter. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. But sometimes I’d miss our old conversations. The last couple of months before she passed away there were several times I’d think I need to call Mom only to immediately remember that things were different. I went through a spell in the summer of nesting and tweaking my living room, buying lamps and finally hanging pictures. All the things I would have discussed with Mom. So, I called my Dad and shared with him. I suppose I could have told mom, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same and I also knew that she might not even engage at all on the phone. I wish I’d tried anyway.
Since her passing, I have had several times where I wish I could talk to her or something will happen and my first thought is to call Mom. I’ve needed so much to hear her words of wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. I’ve needed to laugh with her. There are times that you just need your mother because no one understands you like she does. In those times I remind myself that God can comfort me and that he truly understands.
I cling to all the hope, dry my eyes, and do my best to live life without my Ladybug.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~~ Washington Irving
My mom, the cheerleader (8th grade, Mt. Carmel) standing by the fence in front of their church turned house where they lived in Beechburg, KY.
This home is now a garage and
my best friend recently purchased the property.
My Mom has always been my biggest cheerleader.
Come back tomorrow for more of the journey? Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!