It’s been nearly two weeks since things began to unravel. What has always felt strong seems laden with fragility, a thin layer of glass that could be shattered with the faintest touch of pressure. And I’ve learned that in the breath of a moment the phone can ring, the words can come tumbling out in a flurry of panic and unanswered questions, and life becomes divided into two threads: what was before, and everything that came after. In the middle is when I learned how delicate the shelter of peace really is.
While perusing Amazon for a post-surgery head scarf for my mom, I wondered at the surrealism that seems to be coloring the circle of my family. Am I really shopping for something to wear after brain surgery? I asked myself. I want it to be pretty, but not ostentatious. She’ll feel self-conscious enough. Which scarf says, hey I’m recovering so be gentle, but also communicates how strong my mother is on every important level? I want to buy the right thing, and I don’t want to be buying anything at all. While scrolling through images of women looking a little too happy to be modeling chemo scarves and caps, a memory interrupted my thoughts.
It was July of last year, and I was standing at a clothing rack in a store. I thumbed through newborn outfit after newborn outfit. Which onesie says, thank you for letting me adopt your son while also photographing well for the hospital pictures? No stripes, right? Avoid the one that says “Mommy’s little blessing” because that’s a potential trigger, and aren’t newborns a little young for collared shirts? I needed the outfit to say,
your my our baby is beautiful while also communicating how much her decision to let me be his mother would forever alter the word grateful to me.
I stood there in paralyzing indecision because it seemed like I was asking an awful lot of such a tiny piece of fabric.
It’s funny the things that stand out in moments of indecision and uncertainty. To be honest, I had to think for a few minutes to remember which newborn outfit ended up being “the one” we put baby in to leave the hospital. It didn’t matter so much because no amount of pastel cotton could absorb the weight of those goodbyes and hellos.
My mom sent me a picture of herself wearing her head scarf, and what’s not surprising to anyone is that she’s rocking it with a smile and lots of peace. Her surgery date is coming up in a couple of weeks, and the purposeful calmness that she possesses is truly beyond my understanding, and probably hers as well. What I didn’t tell you in my last post is that when we initially thought she had a brain bleed, she worded her goodbyes to us via text in case we didn’t have the chance to speak them face to face. She was staring what looked like her death sentence right in the face, and then told us all that mattered to her was that her children were following Christ. That was all she had ever wanted in her life, and she could easily meet Jesus face to face with the knowledge that her deepest prayers had been answered.
I don’t need to tell you that I was on the floor after those words lit up the screen of my phone. If I’d had a paper bag, I would have been breathing into it. Instead, I called out to the Jesus who is always near because I just needed Him to help me breathe while I absorbed my mom’s potential goodbye.
Last night during our weekly small group dinner, we were talking about the differences between being religious and having a passionate, vibrant relationship with Christ. One question we cycled through for over an hour was this: how do we communicate our love for Christ to our children? How do we teach passion when our kids seem passionless? One friend said, “When my kids were babies, I stood at their cribs every night and just prayed that they would love Jesus more than anything else in the world. That was all I ever wanted for them.” The discussion went on without me because I was seeing Mom’s words on my phone again. Loving Jesus was all that mattered. It is all that matters.
Everything else that is significant falls in line under that one important thing.
Following Christ means everything, and He is the only One who gives peace in the hardest place.
Mom, you’ve always modeled single-minded love for Jesus to us. I know He is the reason you get up in the morning and the reason why you have peace. You’ve taught us well what it means to have a vibrant, passionate relationship with Christ. And in the end, it is what matters most.
This is me, rising up and calling you blessed.
Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come.
Proverbs 31:25, HCSB