I’m writing this post from a really uncomfortable couch in my mom’s hospital room. Everyone is sleeping and I thought I’d capture a few of my thoughts here during this quiet time.
As most of you know, mom returned to the hospital last weekend and after testing it was discovered that all of the cancer removed during surgery has returned- and then some. There isn’t anything left to do but to keep her comfortable and savor all the remaining minutes and days God gives us with her. She is brave (her doctor calls her “stoic”) and she knows that what awaits her is SO much better than any joy we have ever known here (and we have known much joy!) God has blessed her with very little pain, an incredible(!!!) doctor who loves God with all her heart and prays with us each time she stops by, and an open spot in a beautiful Hospice facility that we hope to move to later today.
We all are just overwhelmed by the support, cards, letters, flowers, gas cards, prayers etc. that have poured in on mom’s behalf. Her friend and co-worker Lisa visited yesterday and when mom said she couldn’t believe how many people care, Lisa reminded her that this is her legacy. She has cared for so many others, listened, visited, sent letters, prayed, and taught. This is just all of those hundreds of people saying thank you for a life well-lived. I’m glad Lisa said that, because it is true.
Yesterday, I was walking to get lunch and there was a man sitting in the hall making an obviously difficult phone call and crying his eyes out while the hospital overhead speakers cheerily played, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year….with kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘be of good cheer’…its the MOST wonderful time of the year.”
I stood in line for my toasted cheese and thought about that for a long time.
A lot of people have said that they are especially sorry that all of this is happening in our family right now at Christmas, but I think that this might be the very first Christmas I truly celebrate for the right reason.
I will get all spiritual on you and quote from The Grinch who Stole Christmas:
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
We are sitting in a hospital room and facing the reality that mom is leaving us. But we know this is only the beginning for her- the beginning of life as it should have been all along. Life as we all long for it to be- with no pain, no sadness, no tears and no goodbyes. None of the things we suffer from here. And we know we will all join her someday and together we will worship God forever.
The reason this is even possible starts with Christmas. It all begins with Jesus coming to earth, God becoming man, taking all of our sin on himself and paying for it with his own death and resurrection.
Whatever the “Happy Holidays” people say, there truly is no reason to celebrate Christmas without Jesus. Without Jesus it IS about ribbons and tags, it comes with packages, boxes and bags. Without Jesus, it’s a shopping spree and a sentimental Hallmark Channel set of days, full of traditions that will end, presents that will be forgotten, and credit card bills in January.
This year we are back to the basics. No decorations or lights on a tree, no presents, no feasts. But we have the hope of eternity because of Jesus. And that makes this season one of the most wonderful times of the year, no matter what circumstances we face.
I will leave you with one of my dad’s favorite songs~
“And because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know- I know He holds the future,
I can face uncertain days- because He lives.”