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Monday, April 22, 2013

Waiting For the Passage from Earthly Life to Eternal Life

The weekend brought us to a place of great decline with my mom.  Last Friday she was in quite a bit of pain and we were doing everything we could to get the pain under control and get her to a more comfortable resting place.  Sadly, this also meant that she needed to be sedated in order to rest quietly.  We didn't realize it at the time, but once she quieted down on Friday, it was the beginning of the end of her being alert on earth.  She would stir from time to time but often with groans and whines.  She seemed so uncomfortable that the most humane thing to do was to gently care for her through loving words and warm caress while administering more pain medicine.  My father and I began to accept that the days of interacting with her here on earth were likely behind us and we began to pray for God, in His mercy, to take her to her eternal home.  
I have never waited for death in quite this manner.  We are very blessed that she has been able to have home hospice care and her caregivers have been awesome.  There are no tubes or machines.  Just us trying to make her passage from earth into eternity as comfortable as possible.  
It is a strange and curious place to be, waiting, (wanting in a compassionate manner) for a loved one to pass.  I am deeply comforted by the events of the past week and by the future hope that we truly embrace.  I know that my mother is anxious to meet my brother, in whatever way the afterlife provides, and I know that she is ready to shed this earthly body which is now of no earthly good and only a hindrance to the glory that awaits her.  I cannot want her to continue in this fragile state.  It is so odd to think that while she is technically still alive, she is definitely no longer living.  I count it a huge privilege to be present with my father and with her as we wait for her death.  Both my father and I are ready for the next stage of adjustment and grief which will surely come.  But we are ready to release her from this current state and return to memories of her which include her broad smile, curly hair and winsome personality.  
I have thought so often of what we in clergy circles commonly refer to as the Nunc Dimittis, most often recited at the end of a funeral or a memorial, but something that has brought me comfort as I have sought to come to grips with my mom's departure from this world:


"Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;   
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel."

My mom has been a great servant of our Lord.  The imprint that she has made on countless people's lives is immeasurable.   She has been a light that has helped so many experience the unconditional love of Christ in unspeakable ways.  She deserves to go in peace and so we are praying for that to happen soon.
Yes, it is a very strange place waiting for someone you love to pass from earth to eternity and yet the hope that is ours because of Christ's victory over death through his resurrection surely brings comfort and joy even as we sorrow.  Lord, in your mercy.  Hear our prayers.  Amen.