“I would have despaired, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” those words, written 3,000 years ago by the Psalmist David, were my prayer through my mom’s six month cancer journey.
I prayed God would heal her. Oh, how, I prayed. Yet, even if he didn’t, I was determined to believe in God’s goodness.
Even more than praying for Mom’s healing, I asked God to simply let me see his goodness, keeping track of ways he had blessed us in the middle of this terrible trial. Such as the providential way my mother-in-law, Pat, and my dear neighbor, Joan, watched my children while I was in Connecticut helping my mom.
Or by providing a prime parking spot at a busy New Haven hospital. Or blessing Mom with a host of wonderful nurses, doctors and health aids. Or giving us a perfect Thanksgiving together around Mom’s table, little knowing it would be her last.
Most of all, I thank him for allowing me to be with her the day she passed from this kingdom to the next. But I will not lie and say it was easy. It was hard.
That night, when I returned to her cottage, knowing she was gone, I was devastated.
After laying my youngest son down to sleep in the playpen I’d set next to my mom’s desk in her office full of linguistics books and Bible reference manuals, I took a walk while my husband and oldest son stayed behind. Images of my mom’s final hours filled my mind, and I sat on her garden wall and wept.
“Where was your goodness?” my heart cried out to God. “Where was your beauty?”
I felt betrayed.
Then gently, so gently, he showed me the wizened face of the nun, dressed in her flowing black habit, scooting down the nursing home hall in her walker to bless my mom in her final minutes.
He showed me the face of the stooped 101-year-old woman in her wheelchair, and those of the other residents living in the rooms along my mom’s hall, who’d smiled and chatted with delight at seeing my 1-year-old son.
And he showed me my hands on my mom’s once-strong shoulders, my voice singing as her breaths deepened and slowed and stopped.
“You’re safe in his arms. You’re safe in his arms. You’re safe in his arms. You’re safe,” I sang to my mom the same words I sang to myself after losing my 7-year-old daughter. “You’re safe from harm. You are safe in his arms. You’re safe in his arms. You’re safe.”
These past months he’d given us joy and laughter, friends and neighbors who’d rallied around Mom when I could not, this whole huge world filled with staggering beauty in the face of such overwhelming ugliness.
And I was silent.
In honor of my mom’s passing, I’ll be taking a break from blogging until the new year. May yours be blessed.