She Gave Up the Ghost

MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
MomMom and Janie w bday strawberry shortcake
After almost a week in hospice, with loved ones by her side, my mother gave up the ghost. Long after I said goodbye, “give up the ghost” lingered in my mind. For over a decade I had walked with Mom through the tunnels of advancing dementia, then stood watch in the dim light of her hospice room. Over and over, she seemed ready to go. Her breath would stop, then twenty seconds later, she’d suck in air and battle on with furrowed brow. Giving up the ghost took on a different meaning.

‘Giving up the ghost’ comes from the King James Version of Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s also used commonly, as an old car gives up the ghost.

For Mom, I think more of ghosts that haunt. Ghosts that lurk around corners and pounce at unexpected times. Ghosts of Christmas Past. Ghosts of if-only. Ghosts of what-I-should-have-done.

I believe the “ghost” that threatened her peace and made her reluctant to run to the Light was guilt over the death of a tiny soul.

When I was ten, my youngest brother drowned. As families will after a tragedy, we all privately blamed ourselves. But Mom was the mother, and she hadn’t cared for her three-year-old. Though she maintained she was fine, since Mac was safely in heaven with Jesus, that event shook her foundations, and brought her back to her Lord.

However, as executive function diminished in her brain toward the end of her life, nightmares and delusions often crowded out her joy. In the final days, clearly she could not let go. When my sister and I, separately, talked to Mom of going to heaven, that her mother and sisters were waiting for her, she beamed. But when we mentioned our little brother, she drew back, almost in fear, and the darkness covered her again. When we realized what was happening, we assured her that she was forgiven, by Jesus, and by Mac.

Still, I believe she was afraid to face that child.

After several more days of prayers, Psalm reading and songs, Mom found peace. The shadows gone, she is restored and whole and radiant. With her dear son, and the Son who makes true restoration possible.

Why, you ask, am I sharing this with you?

Because many of us have buried pain. Remorse still raw, or guilt not absolved. Perhaps “The Secret” that lingers in the shadows, waiting to accuse, again.

I’m encouraged by the lesson from my mother’s bedside to continue to let go. To journey forward on The Healing Path, and offer you, my friend, a hand.

When it’s my time, I want to run to Jesus with open arms, not edging back into the darkness.

Come join the journey to Peace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matt 11: 28-30
(If you do not see the video below, click on the title at the top to view pictures and videos in the webpage.)

Mac
Mac
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mommom holding great-grandchild
Mom birthday 2008
Mom birthday 2008

D7T_0360

Mom
Mom

DSC_3028_1391_edited-1

Janie and Mommom
Janie and Mommom

Mommom love
Mommom love

7 thoughts on “She Gave Up the Ghost

  1. What a beautiful tribute, Jane. I do not pretend to understand losing a parent and honestly think I will feel quite untethered when the time comes for me to lose mine. But I was touched by your heart, so evident in your word choice, and your memories.

    I truly hope your mother has found your younger brother and that there will be healing…for her, for him, and for all of you.

    With much heart and equal blessings,
    Dani

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    1. It’s funny, growing up I was always told I look like my Dad, and I do. I looked just like his mother. But the older I’ve gotten, the more people think I look like Mom. Some of it must be expressions, etc. She was a special lady, so it’s a complement. Thank you.

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  2. Absolutely! I think I was so deeply impressed simply because of her great legacy of love and faith. It was sad that anything would mar her joy in her last years, and days. She shared her love and touched so many lives, made life so much better for countless people, way beyond her own family. I wanted her to feel that, to relish her legacy while she was alive, but what she had buried years ago would not stay hidden. Our weaknesses can always be learning opportunities, for ourselves and for those observing our lives. I’m sure if Mom is able to see us now (lots of debate about that) then she’s cheering and saying, “Yes! Don’t hold on to any of it! Run to Jesus!”

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  3. Janie,
    Sometimes mom seemed to try to hide from her feelings in the nameof religion. This experience brought home the necessity to deal with feelings & life as it comes with the love & help of Jesus.

    Mom’s primary legacy is LOVE. Let us learn from all of her examples. Thanks for sharing,

    I love you, Sis.

    Like

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