There’s a call that comes to every one of us. Some of us receive the call sooner than others. Some of us are ready and some of us are not. Some expect it and some do not. It’s the final call. The call that trumps every other call in life. It’s the call that comes from our Father in Heaven. The call that says it’s time. Time for the next step. Man, it’s a brutal call. Gut wrenching and heart breaking and emotional. Those that have to witness a loved one receiving it is painful. But it’s the one call that we can not turn down.
Last week heaven called my mother-in-law. And knowing her, she was happy to receive it. At 71 years old, she unexpectedly passed away after a severe stroke took her brain. She felt no pain. The hours prior to her passing were filled with immense emotion and anguish as her loved ones rushed from all different places and states to get to her side. There were so many acts of kindness bestowed upon our family from heaven. Miracles poured in. Tears flooded the earth. I believe in her case, her call came at the right time. My husband says it best when he states that, “On paper, this was the perfect thing.” But off paper, ugh, it hurts. No one wants to lose their mother. My kids were not ready to lose their beloved grandmother. Her home was our second home. I am not ready to walk in her house and not see her in her rocking chair reading the same page of the same book she’s been reading for the past year or so. I am not prepared to NOT see her smile or hear the funny things she says or answer the same question ten times. I want to see her walk into the room fully dressed with her beautiful jewelry and wearing her favorite clothes from Chico’s. I need to hear her stories. I want her to walk in my house with her black coat on and her arm holding on to her husband. I need her at my kids birthday parties. I need to hear her belly laugh and crack funny jokes. I will miss her razzing Brian about his latest haircut or beard. She was the center piece of our family puzzle. She was the creator of family. Her and her incredible husband created a beautiful family. But my wonderful mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s. It was hard. Her mind was slipping. So again, on paper, this was the perfect time for her call. That doesn’t mean however that it’s painless.
When a mother receives her final call and steps over the threshold into heaven, it hurts. Children cry and are confused. The scent of flowers fill the air. Food comes pouring in from supporting hands. Love is so thick it can be sliced and served in heaping doses along with the carrot cake, German chocolate cake and the pizza that sustains hungry mouths and souls for days. The embrace of loving family and friends keeps our hearts from completely falling to pieces on the floor. When a grandmother is called up to heaven, her 6 year-old granddaughter stays up late trying on all of Grandmas jewelry that has now been gifted to her and then finally falls asleep with Grandmas jewelry box tucked into her side. And the first thing she does in the morning is put on a simple gold chain to wear proudly to school the next day. She needs her grandma.
When a mother passes, grown men weep. Hearts are softened. Time stops. Work stops. Priorities shift. When a grandmother passes her 9 year-old grandson who is primarily consumed with fun, puts on a straight face and suit, pins a flower to his chest and holds on to and supports her casket with pride and tears. In that moment, nothing else matters. People come from all parts of the country to show their love and support. Bank accounts, dollar amounts, schedules and obligations are of no significance. When grandma passes, wisdom pours out of the mouth of a toddler. Her 3 year-old grandson repeatedly asked before we went to the funeral if we were going to the place where everyone cries. He says he won’t cry because Grandma is better now. He’s happy for her.
When that center piece of the puzzle is gone, you do everything you can to feel close to her. Which means you go to Village Inn and order strawberry-banana french toast which is what she has done every day for over a year. When mom is gone we laugh. We play cards because that’s what she loved. We talk about how bossy she was and how stubborn and strong-willed she was. We talk about how righteous and obedient and virtuous and charitable she was. We remember her talents and skills in the kitchen and how she gave thousands of meals to others. We remember how she loved flowers, especially peach roses. We remember her service. Her ability to send birthday cards to perfect strangers. And we remember her incredible strength as she was the mother of 4 boys.
And when a mother enters heaven we think about her new home. Where she is and who she is with and especially who made it possible for us to see her again. We think of the plan that is laid out before us and we are grateful. We remember. Remember what we have been taught.
This life is a probationary state. It was never intended to be the state or the end. It is merely a section of a bigger picture. A stepping stone. When we pass on, it is not over. God has a plan for us. I believe that. I feel that. We shed our imperfect body, but keep our spirit and our intelligence. We prepare for greater things. And we relish in the fact that families can be together forever. Death has no sting. Grandma is with the other members of our family that have already received their call. She, I’m sure was more than happy to shed her mortal body that held her back. I know she loved her family, but I imagine she is giggling now. She is serving, loving and resting. We will see her again. And having that knowledge fills my soul with an abundant amount of gratitude. It helps me find peace through all the sorrow.
Here’s the thing. I believe Christ. I not only believe in Christ and that he existed, but I believe that he did what he said he’d do. He came to this earth to combat the two things that keep us from returning to our Father in Heaven. He volunteered to bridge the gaps and make it possible. He came to earth to overcome sin (because we ALL fall short and we ALL make mistakes) and He came to overcome death (and we will all receive that call one day too.) We can’t do it on our own. We need him. I believe him. If I didn’t believe that than his existence was inconsequential. He came in vain.
But he didn’t come in vain. He came with a purpose. We need him. We need hope. And because of Him we will be with our loved ones again. I believe that.
So, now here we are. We are asked to have faith that those things are true. And here I am with jumbled emotions. With sadness, gratitude, faith, hope and a keyboard. I write to make sense of my feelings. I write to remember. And I usually write when things are hard. And yesterday, her funeral was hard. She was someone to be remembered. I can not contain my sorrow yet. But I will get there. My kids will get there. With lots of time and tears and memories and prayers and help from heaven, we will get through it.
I have to publicly thank my Father in Heaven for his never-ending grace. For sending his son to save us. For providing a plan so families can be together forever. He is so very gracious and merciful. I know that because I feel it and I can not deny it.
So even when a mother receives her final call, the earth may weep but heaven shines brighter. And this last week they received the brightest light of all.
We love you mom. Take care of us. See you again one day.