Faith Overcoming Death
"I love you Mom," I said, two days before she stopped talking.
"Well, apparently," she responded, not much for words these last days. Days before death would come, that other-worldly condition.
She laid her head back down, having lifted it to speak. She lay on her left side, to breathe a little better, as she did her last thirty days. The morphine was doing it's job, easing her pain, making her sleep.
Death doesn't suit my mother. She was herself, young and feisty, grasping at something, reaching out, perhaps away from death till the very last.
"You haven't given up on me, have you?" She asked dad, maybe seven days before she left us.
"No, I haven't."
We are a praying family, believing in healing, even after the healing didn't come, believing in healing even after death took her.
We can't stop this believing. If healing doesn't come, it's not God's fault. It's something we haven't figured out, haven't grasped onto for ourselves yet.
Maybe someday we will. So we still believe.
My mother had stage four cancer for four years before she died. She has been gone now for three months, seventeen days as I write this. I would tell you the hours, but I don't keep track
quite that closely. You would have to ask my dad for those. People think her death wasn't sudden, not a surprise since she fought cancer for so long. I think people like to think this, somehow it makes them feel better. I've been in that position.
But for us, it was sudden. Mom was very much alive, until she wasn't. And even then, she still is. She's just not here.
What is this dying, anyway? I saw her take her last breath. Saw her skin begin to lose its color, her body stiffen. But it doesn't connect in my brain.
I smelled her hair. It smelled of mother.
Young mother. Alive mother. Even as she was my dead mother. But not dead. More alive than me now.
We are a faithful family. We believe in having a home with God. Wherever God is. Being made new. Being made whole. Perfected. Finally. And faith is not something we have. Or I should speak only for myself.
Faith is not something I have. It's something I am. It's not something you can rip from me. It won't go away. I've tried. I've told you before, I've tried. But if my soul has blood, it is made of faith. If my spirit has a brain, it is made of faith.
If there is a body beyond this one, it's made of faith. So we believe in a home to return to after our bodies expire. And how can we return home, unless we have been there before?
I take comfort in this. And it's not something I believe, it's something I know. Like a soft, many years-worn favorite sweater, I put it on and feel at home with it. And that's all I have for now--that comfortable faith, the kind I can count on, even when my eyes tell me differently. Call me a fool.
When I was nine, Mom stood on a home-sized iceberg one winter, over the water that flooded our road. She took a shovel and pushed herself around, laughing and calling out. I stood on the shores near the house, awed at what this crazy woman was doing.
I'm still there, watching from the shores, admiring the way she stepped out there so bravely.