Needing a taste of heaven

a taste of heaven
Mom singing
Grief is a strange bedfellow. One moment I’m hugging a family member and celebrating the knowledge that my mother is now free from the prison of her mind and failing body. The next, I’m struck with longing for one more chance to spend an afternoon with her, even with her dementia-tortured mind.

It’s the little things that tear me up.

I pass the ice cream shop where I took her the last time we went out, my grandson grinning across the table as they smacked their lips over sundaes. She loved being with family, and was crazy about ice cream. Why didn’t I take her more often?

I leave an appointment and cringe at the “right turn only” sign at the end of the parking lot, the road leading to Mom’s place. Instead, I head the other way, aching over the number of times I turned that way, when I could have gone to see her.

There was so much more I could have done to make her last year better.

But I didn’t know it was her last year, her last month, my last chance to love on her.

So what do I do with my tears? The heavy weight of “if only” and “I wish I had…”?

My brain says she is happy now, so much better off with Jesus.

But I am here and cannot stretch to heaven.

My heart sleeps with grief, walks with loss, and aches with the hole torn asunder by her death.

So I cry.

Again.

And even before I blot those tears, my brother calls. Love soothes through the air waves, tender encouragement, and even chuckles when he says, if she could, Mom would scold me for feeling badly. He says I did enough. Time to let go.

To recall the last time we were alone, hugging her and praying with her and singing, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

It was fairly easy this past month, surrounded by loved ones. We are family. We share relationship and the thread woven through our lives by that unforgettable lady.

Now that we’ve gone home, “back to normal” life, I limp along, alone.

But not alone. That’s pity-party stuff.

My husband’s hug, my brother’s call, a sweet text from my daughter, a blog post from a dear cyber sister, Healing, like grief, comes in waves remind me that we are meant to connect, to share our hearts, and to reach out.

Hell is isolation, going it alone.

I believe God created us to need each other, to live connected.

To reach out to each other when we need a hand, to offer a hand, and when the moment arises, to share a taste of heaven.

But when I come to the end of it all, there is only one place for my soul to find rest.

This side of the curtain, I taste a bit of heaven when I splay my soul before my Lord in worship.

Since music touches me where thoughts don’t walk, I love many songs. But this is without a doubt my favorite modern one. I leave myself, my “should-a , would-a, could-a” self behind, and listen to the angels cry, His Glory Appears.

I’m sure my Mom is singing that now.

And because of the faith she shared with me, I sing, and I look forward to the day when we’ll sing it together, with all the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.

We are all wonderfully unique. When you are down, what do you seek?

Where do you go for a touch of heaven?

When the dust settles

After a tragic loss, after the initial waves of pain and grief, when the dust settles, our vision clears, fresh and solid. The stuff of life that consumed so much time or energy or angst shrinks into pebbles beneath our feet. We wonder why it drove so much of our days. With arms wide open, we embrace the new day, the next breath, the ones still given to us to love.

And so it has been in the wake of my mother’s death. We celebrated her life with a marvelous assembly of family and love. We cried with I Can Only Imagine. We held each other, embraced by the cocoon of church family and our own caring. We remembered. With pictures and voices, we collected the stories, the history of our dear one who, at the end, had lost those memories.

Now, we bear them into our futures.

Not just the memories. We carry the love. Her legacy. A love imperfect, but wonderfully poured out.

After all of that, after my dear ones have gone home to their complicated lives, after a good night’s sleep, I look at the glow in the sunrise cloud and feel eternity.

As I walk through these days, I straddle here and there, earth and heaven.

The very best of my mother is close at hand, because heaven itself is not some distant galaxy, far away.

The Eternal kisses here and now with every flower bud that opens, every chrysalis that yields a butterfly, with every rosy-cheeked baby who giggles with delight as her daddy holds her high above her world. Every hug from a friend. Each glance from my sweet husband that says, “I know how you feel. I know the mixture of pain and relief. And I’m here for you.”

When I lift my voice to worship my Lord, as I picture his wonderful face, I see Mom, close by, glowing with love fulfilled. And I know what matters.

When the dust settles, love matters.

The rest is all fill.

Johnny and Mom
Johnny and Mom

(If you don’t see the picture and videos above, click on the title to view this on the webpage.)

What tragedy has given you clear vision? What have you seen when the dust settles?