This time last year my mom had just undergone open-heart surgery in wake of discovering that what she had been passing off as emotional stress and anxiety, was actually congestive heart failure due to a birth defect in her aortic valve that had gone undiagnosed. May last year was a tough month to say the least – having received the completely unexpected bad news, worrying that she wasn’t even going to make it through surgery, the long days at the hospital of watching her go through so much physical and emotional pain and feeling completely helpless about it all. It was all something I was definitely not prepared for…but she did in fact come home, and on Mother’s Day too.
This May is all very different. There’s been no unexpected bad news, there’s been no major surgeries, and there’s been no long days at the hospital…and yet this May is still tough. This May is still tough because, even though I will be home for yet another Mother’s Day, my mom won’t be there this time. This Mother’s Day, for the first time, I won’t have her to celebrate with and honor- not in person anyway, only in memory because eight months ago and exactly four months after her coming home from surgery, my mom had a major heart attack and went home to be with the Lord. So now, here I find myself one whole year later facing a whole new May and a whole new Mother’s day - one without my mom. Who knew so much could change so quickly?
Though I’ve heard the phrase, “life can change in an instant,” a million times and seen it play out countless times in other’s lives and in the movies, I never imagined it’d feel quite like this. So much has changed and yet the world just keeps ticking on like nothing ever even happened. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could just push a pause button and freeze frame my life so that I can take a few deep breaths in complete and utter motionlessness and silence. Doesn’t that sound completely wonderful? A moment in which there is nothing else to do and nothing else to think about except to just breath…in, and then out…in, and then out…ahhh…that would be pure bliss! Can you imagine?
As I’m sitting here imagining that for myself, I’m reminded that I have actually experienced bliss like this before. While our lives may not have come stock with a magic remote in which we can control our universe (darn it, I know!), we do however have access to something even better than that but which works similarly, and that something is the Lord our God – creator of all things and master of the universal remote, so to speak.
This is not at all what I planned on writing about today. I planned on sharing about chapter five of the book “Stressed-Less Living” by Tracie Miles, which I’m reading for Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible study. It was an absolutely phenomenal chapter in which God has continued to use to really move in my heart, mind, and soul; however, notice that I typed “I planned.” While I may have had plenty of good things to share on chapter five, God had a different message waiting for me when I came to Him in prayer for guidance before I began writing, and that message is one in which I’ve long awaited for because in it lies great power. Power in which I’ve only come to recognize just this week, and a power that I’m finally coming to realize that the Lord has wanted to unleash into the struggles I’ve been left to face in the death of my mom.
After the loss of my mom, one of the things that I’ve unexpectedly struggled with the most is in the realization of just how much I needed, relied on, and looked to my mom for guidance and support. Not just as a mother to her daughter, but as a mother to a younger first time mom. I really wasn’t counting on the overwhelming anxiousness that would come on like a swift kick in the gut every time I’d find myself instinctually reaching for the phone to dial her number when yet another child rearing query would pop into my day, only to then be reminded that she isn’t going to be picking up the phone on the other end…ever.
Apparently it’s just as difficult for this realization to sink in as it is to feel, because even now after eight months, I still find myself coming face to face with these urges regularly. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll ever go away, or if I even really want them to go away…but the truth is, whether they do or don’t isn’t the question that I’ve needed most answered. The real issue is the tougher questions hiding behind those frequent urges to call my mom. Questions like: Who do I turn to too fulfill this role – this new void in my life which over time seemingly grows larger and larger still as I begin to realize more and more of the things in which I still very much need my mom for in my life? Or, how do I stop feeling so alone in this motherhood journey of mine, when the one person I could always count on in this world to be there for me with unquestioning support, unconditional love, and superior wisdom is gone and I now feel like I have no one to turn to?
With these questions being only two of so many that have been left imprinted on my heart and soul after the death of my mom, it really shouldn’t have come by surprise that, after praying for the Lord’s guidance about what to share here this week, He chose to fix my gaze directly on this week’s reflection verse.
Through this precious Word of His, He has began to quietly and gently reply to those long felt yearnings and questions in my heart. In them, He has given me the answer. “The Lord replied,” – the Lord of Lord’s and King of King’s replied to me, to my questions, to the desperate calls from my heart. And He said to me: “My presence,” – the stately bearing of the almighty, your compass and true north, “will go with you,” – Katrina, into the depths of your grief and into the darkness of your pain. There I, your God, am with you always, “and I” – the one and only who can give you all that you seek and need, I, not the world nor anyone else in it, “will give you rest” – will graciously and lovingly give you, Katrina, the rest that you have so desperately yearned for, from your unease and your anxiousness, rest in your spirit, heart, and mind. You will not become lost in your grief or overcome with your loneliness because I, your God, your Heavenly Father am with you always.
What an awesome God we serve! Though the grief of losing my mom will always be with me in this life, so will the Lord, my God, always be with me. He is with me when I’m missing her, He is with me when I’m struggling in my motherhood journey and yearning to reach out to her, and He will be with me when I travel home for my first Mother’s day without her this weekend. Though I have always known in my mind that He is with us and I have even felt that truth many times in my life, in many of my other circumstances, it is through Exodus 33:14 that the Lord has etched His Word onto the tablet of my heart - His Word that makes His claim that I, Katrina, am NEVER ALONE, and it is in that truth that I am finally able to just breath…in, and then out…in, and then out…ahhh, the pure bliss that can only come from truly leaning on the Lord!
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~Mathew 11:28
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." ~Psalm 91:1
"I will never leave you nor forsake you." ~Joshua 1:5b