This summer brought a lot of stress. When I think back to spring, I was only concerned about my lawn and how to get rid of weeds. My life consisted of taking care of my home and going to work. Around Mother’s Day, I heard that my mom was hospitalized. I didn’t go see her because I was taking a break from my parents, and my hiatus had turned into over a year. They were living in a way I didn’t approve of, and the environment was not safe. But, all requests to change their ways had fallen on deaf ears. And, when a situation turned so ugly between my dad and me, I walked away. Daily, I felt guilty, and I would ask God if I was a horrible daughter. I mean, who walks away from their parents in their eighties? I did. And, every time I asked God what to do, I would hear these simple words: Trust Me. I will let you know when you are needed.
I want to say that this made me feel better, but it didn’t. I had to seek God continually to find a sense of peace, but I was always on edge. If I would hear a siren in my neighborhood, I would instantly visualize that my dad was in a car accident or someone had taken a death fall down the stairs. I would go on social media to scan the police reports for my town searching for answers and hoping I wouldn’t see that they were hurt or caused anyone else’s demise.
When I heard that my mom was hospitalized, I figured she would be okay. And, she was. She stayed until the Tuesday following Mother’s Day, and from what I heard, she went home energetic and back to her old self. That was until Wednesday when my dad couldn’t wake her up. The emergency number was called, and she was taken back to the hospital. When I received that news, I felt uneasy. I hadn’t had that feeling the first time, but I knew I couldn’t just sit back and let it go. At midnight, I went up to the hospital knowing my dad would be at home, and she would be there by herself. When I entered the room, I saw her lying in bed sound asleep. I came near her side, and her feet started moving almost as if she was jumping up and down. It looked like she was excited to see me, but her eyes were closed, and I hadn’t said a word. I was going to pray for healing, and as I started to do so, a nurse and an aide walked into the room. I explained I was visiting, and that I was hoping she was okay. The nurse assured me that she was fine, and I felt like I was to leave. I looked at the clock in my car and saw that I was only with her for about twenty minutes. I said to my daughter,
“I don’t think I was to pray for her healing. I think she wants to go on to heaven.” I knew right then that I was to help make her transition from earth to the next place.
The following day, I went back to the hospital. In my heart, I was hoping she would be sitting up in bed and greet me when I entered. But, it wasn’t to be that way. She was still sound asleep. This only solidified what I already knew. Two days later, the hospital staff gathered my family and told us that hospice was the only answer. We decided to take her back home so my dad would be right with her along with twenty-four-hour help. The ten days at home brought social workers, nurses and a music therapist who played the best tunes. Even in her state of sleep, my mom managed to lift a finger to swing along with one of the songs. Music was one of her favorite things.
True to his word, God made the situation right. On more than one occasion, my mom woke up and said very significant things to me. I can’t explain this fully, but I could actually hear her speak to me while she was sleeping, and if I closed my eyes and asked God to show me what she was doing, I saw the entire scene of where she was. There was a bridge, and her mother was escorting her from earth to heaven. Now, I didn’t fully believe this at first when I started to see it, but by the end of it all, I did. I would see something and hear her say something in my spirit, and then she would wake up briefly and speak these things to me to confirm that I wasn’t losing my mind. This brought me great comfort during this time because it made me realize that heaven is not very far away. I think a lot of us think of it in miles and imagine it is light-years beyond us. I can tell you from experience that it isn’t. Heaven is closer than your next-door neighbor.
After my mom passed on to heaven on May 28th, my dad went into assisted living. It was now time to clean the house they had occupied for 60 years. By the time I was done going through the house, and it was on the market in September, I had become possession sensitive. I began to look at my own home to figure out what I could throw and not leave for my children to deal with when I die. Old papers were taken to the city shred fests, and places in my dwelling were gone over and cleaned up. This is still a work in progress, and I am nowhere near dying as far as I know.
One day, while making the final rounds at their house, I started to notice the beauty of it. Amazingly, they had raised six kids in a small rambler, and I started to see it for the miracle it was. I had spent most of the summer months in a panic state trying to get rid of everything and in that mindset, it was a daily burden. Cleaned out of all of its contents, I could finally see it for what it really was. My mind was somewhat free of its clutter momentarily enough for me to realize that I hadn’t taken a second to even think clearly since May. It had all been about work and stuffing down my feelings just trying to survive the onslaught. I didn’t want to feel the loneliness that often accompanies grief, and the distraction of moving furniture had freed me from it. But, I knew I had to let myself feel something sooner than later. I went into the basement and sat on the floor surrounded by an empty room and walls, so I thought. In the quiet of that space, I went back in time.
During my preschool years, my dad would make popcorn on the stove the old fashioned way. A splash of oil was heated and a kernel of corn was thrown in. When that one went off, the rest of the batch was thrown in. A large dose of salt followed as it was poured into a large bucket. All eight of us would assemble in the family room in the basement around the tv. We were given a black plastic bowl to scoop up a portion of popcorn. I never was satisfied with what was in my bowl. As soon as my mom would fill it, I would dump it back into the container. I would go to each of my siblings and ask for some out of their bowls. Of course, they all gave me some, but there was grumbling, mainly from the brothers who wanted what they had and didn’t want me bothering them. When I would eat the few pieces they all had shared, I would go around again to ask for more. There would be more slight complaining, but they always complied. One time, before sharing his, one of my brothers asked me why I did this. He wanted to know the reason I had to take theirs when there was an entire bowl I could get my own from.
“Yours tastes better,” I said with my four-year-old eyes piercing his.
How can you argue with that? He reluctantly gave me more, and after eating it, I made my rounds again. My timing was horrible as they would all be watching a good part of a movie, and I would be standing blocking their view. I was too young to understand that a commercial break would have been a more acceptable time to go around for my offering. But as many times as I asked, they threw in what I wanted just to get rid of me quickly. My persistence always paid off. My bowl was never empty.
Romans 15:13: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
(How their popcorn looked compared to mine. And, yes, these are the original black bowls.)
2 thoughts on “Empty”
What a touching story, Christine, of your reconciliation with your parents through your mother’s passing. Brought back so many memories, and a reminder of my mother’s passing. My siblings didn’t want me to be there; so I wasn’t; and I’m still not 100% at peace about ‘all that’. Something more to pray on – not that we ever lack for reasons! Thanks for writing another deeply felt and deeply meaningful post.
I have learned a lot since May. Some good, some bad. Family can be tough with various personalities and navigating those waters can mean a lot of “floating” while you want to be kicking and swimming in another direction. I hope you are able to find that peace that passes all understanding. That only comes from God, and you have heaven’s big stamp of approval. Thank you for reading my post. It’s been awhile! 🙂