It’s over. Again. Another life in our family has ended. A slow puncture this time instead of an explosion. Everyone in our house, apart from the 4 year old, is moving slower, as if grief is a kind of invisible heavy gas we have to wade through. Holding your breath for months wears you out, wears you down. We’re all tired.
Yet I can say I see mercy in the midst of this. At the bedside a few weeks ago we were able to say thanks, we love you, goodbye. Whatever needed to be said and heard. We were there to help and support at just the right time. For reasons best known to God, we were spared the loss of communication and consciousness in the final days. It’s not easy being away from the rest of the family. Distance does not dull the pain or the sadness. But I have seen enough to trust that there is a reason for our being here now, for our being there then.
One of my children asked me if it was okay to shout at God. I said, No. He’s still God. But you can tell him how you feel. Perhaps I should have said yes, but I was a child raised to never shout at her own parents, let alone God. A different era, I know. At least shouting is communication. I am learning this from another child. And God is, thankfully, more patient than I and unlikely to shout back.
I have never before spent time with anyone so knowingly close to death, and her quiet dignity in the face of it and all the discomfort of her condition, was powerful. All my petty preoccupations dissolved in her company. This beautiful woman, my husband’s mother, had not been a great church-goer in recent years, but in those final days her calm anticipation of meeting God comforted me more I suspect than any clumsy words I found to say.
We will meet again. Of this I am sure.
John 14 v 1 – 3
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.