It was the simplest of feasts. My family gathered around my mom’s table in Connecticut to celebrate Thanksgiving. Sitting at the head, Mom reached for her camera in the flickering candlelight and snapped our picture. Satisfied, she was. So pleased to be sharing this banquet of gratitude together, despite her being too weak to cook and having no appetite.
At 65, Mom had lost her strength and desire for food to cancer. The disease had quickly spread from her liver to her bones. I ached for God to intervene. Standing in her kitchen the summer before, she’d explained that the biopsy of a growth in her abdomen was indeed cancer. Wrapping her arms around me, she’d cried. Not for herself. Not for my brother or for me or for our children. She’d cried for people in a distant country waiting to read God’s word in their own language – a language on which she’d long labored as a Bible translator. And I cried too, afraid of losing her.
Twice a month, I made the nine-hour round trip from our house in Maine to hers at a historic Christian community outside Hartford – often with my 1- and 4-year-old sons in tow. Each visit Mom was weaker, first needing a walker, then a wheelchair. Still, I hoped that God would intervene. I believed that God healed. But would he heal my mom? As we passed steaming bowls of stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and creamed onions on that chill Thanksgiving, Mom took so little – a dab of this, a bit of that – before waving away the pumpkin pie.
Mom never passed up pie. The next morning, her pie was still on the plate.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living,” became my constant prayer (Psalm 27:13 NASB).
The more I looked, the more I recognized the many ways God was taking care of us, through Mom’s neighbors who opened their home to us while they were away. Through another neighbor whose daughter babysat my children, giving me quiet time with Mom. And through many others from Mom’s community and church who drove her to appointments, filled her fridge, and picked up her prescriptions when I could not.
Despite Mom’s continued decline, each day God opened my eyes to his blessings. This is the banquet to which God invites each of us: a feast filled with his presence. A chance to trust him with our easily shattered hearts, just as I chose to trust him three weeks after our small celebration, singing of God’s goodness as Mom took her last breath.
Someday we will again gather around a banquet table. Bodies healed. Shattered hearts made whole. Far from a simple feast, that Thanksgiving Day will include people from every nation, including those my mom spent her life working to reach. Satisfied, we will be. So pleased to be together. Because even though God didn’t intervene on the day of my mother’s death, he intervened 2,000 years before when he sent Jesus to make a way for us to share eternity with him. One day, God himself will fulfill our deepest longings, and we will sing a new song, voices raised together in praise of his infinite goodness.
Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Next week she will be announcing news about her upcoming children’s picture-book series shining the light of Christ on the holidays!
Absolutely beautiful and inspiring, Meadow. It was a unique pleasure of
Mine to know your Mom. As I sit here reading this and remembering one of the last times, if not the last time I saw her. Was on a trip to Israel. Was
Sitting down eating a meal with a tour
Group I was with. All of
A sudden I hear her voice behind me and I came “unglued” with such joy and shouted her name. Such a sweet, yet exciting time of fellowship we had.
Lynn, What a gift to hear from you and to hear this story. I can imagine how happy she too must have been to see you. How she loved Israel and her friends who also loved the Land. It brings me so much joy to imagine her voice. And I can only imagine what it will sound like to hear it again. Thank you for sharing such a special memory. And may we all sit together at the banquet table!
Thank you, Meadow. Beautiful.
Beautiful and deeply endearing, thank you Meadow! Sweet Psalm 27 has covered my heart and life for years, especially as my cherished mother passed away at the age of forty six from a weakened heart condition. Holidays are challenging, so true. Also, my husband and I previously partnered with Seed Company in Bible translation. God’s Word is so dear to our hearts for the nations, as well. May God’s presence of comfort and compassion be close to you and yours throughout the holidays.
Thank you, Mary. What a loss to say goodbye to your mother when she was so young. Thank you for sharing your dear memories and your love for Bible translation. The Seed Company helped my mother in her work as well! So grateful for those who help send out the Word so that others can find the same comfort we have. Happy Thanksgiving!
I still tear up every time I think of Lucy and how she’s gone from this earth… to glory to be sure, but where I can’t pick up a phone or pop off an email to her… She was so very multi-talented and dedicated to the Lord, to Israel, to her family, and to her Bible translation. I always looked forward to her Scribal scribbles newsletter… And her laugh… I will never forget her laugh! <3
It was such a gift to meet Lucy, Sunny and you on that 1985 trip to Israel — hard to believe how long ago it was!
I just ordered 5 copies of your book – one for me and the rest for Christmas presents. Can't wait to read it.
God bless you all! Love & shalom, Rose
God bless you, Rose! So lovely to hear from you. Yes, I miss her too–even more this time of year. I’m so glad to have had such a mom. Wow! And I’m so glad to share a wee little bit of her story in my book. Thank you so much for ordering and sharing! Glory indeed!!!