THERE WILL COME A TIME
TO SAY GOOD BYE, TO EVERYTHING!
There I was kneeling by my mother’s bed. She had just undergone emergency surgery. I had been told by the doctors that she didn’t have long to live. She had tubes coming out of her mouth. She couldn’t speak. I was waiting for her to open her eyes.
I had been unable to forgive my mother. With all my “spiritual growth,” insight, and wisdom. I still had not forgiven her. I had given sermons on forgiveness, for goodness sake. I had told myself that I had forgiven her many times, but when I honestly checked my heart I knew it wasn’t true. I still felt neglected, abandoned, abused, and well unworthy. It hurt and I still held it against her. But now we didn’t have much time!
She opened her eyes. The love she had for me came pouring out like waves from an eternal ocean. The night before, when she had been rushed to the emergencyroom, she didn’t know if she’d ever see me again. I guess she didn’t want to leave the world without telling me how much she loved me. Now, with tubes coming out of her mouth, she was telling me the only way she could, through her eyes. I realized that she had loved me this much from the day I was born. She had just been unable to express it through her imperfect, broken and shattered life.
The doctor came in and asked if I could sit and comfort her for one hour. She was in great pain and they could’t give her any pain killers. I wanted to run for the door, but I heard a voice like an echo from the garden of Gethsemane. “Can you not sit with me, one hour?” I sat and with a sponge dampened her parsed lips. At the end of the hour, I had forgiven her completely. I couldn’t afford to waste one more second not loving her for who she was, imperfect like me.
The last days of her life were perfect. Perhaps it is the only the idea of perfection that takes away from the perfection of life as it is. A grace fell over her. We all, sons, grandchildren, and friends, would come into her room and gather around her bed, with long faces, tear stained eyes, and dark clouds surrounding our hearts. There she was sipping Coca Cola, with jazz playing in the back ground. “Yeah, baby I’m gonna miss this!” She was the one dying and she was cheering us up! She had us run secret missions to bring back her beloved root beer floats. We had to sneak them past the doctors and nurses who had warned that they would be “bad” for her. When you know you are going to die, what does “bad for you” actually mean? Yeah, my mom was a rebel to the end.
The moment she died, I received the full gift of her life. I draped myself over her lifeless body and cried from my soul. My chest heaved. My tears were a mix of celebration for the life we shared, respect for the struggles she endured, and mourning for not having one more day!! This was the poetry of life, joy and suffering, victory and defeat, brokenness and healing, tears and laughter, life and death, two sides of one coin. Love, pain, and the whole damn thing!
The days after her death I felt I had missed something? She had told me she was going to teach me something when her time came. I sat on my back porch for three days searching my heart. And then I got it!
She taught me to die! She taught me to die before I die. I don’t have to wait to be told I have three days, three weeks, or three months, to live, to begin living. And neither do you. We are free to wake up to the grace and magic of a single day, every day.
“It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”
-The Prayer of Saint Francis
Something changed in me from that day forward. It seems I have imperfectly practiced this perfect lesson. But then again it seems that there is a perfection even in imperfection, and perhaps that is the greater lesson!
Peace and Love, Si Gong
P.S. I spoke of my mother’s imperfect, broken, and shattered, life. It was through the cracks in her armor and her wounds that my mom’s beautiful light and love shined into the world! She was a world shaker! She never quit! She used her brokenness to heal and uplift everyone who came across her path. I couldn’t always see it when she was alive. Judgement blinded me to the fullness of her wisdom, beauty, and grace. The light of her spirit grows stronger in my heart every day since her death and nourishes me. Nothing but love and respect, Mom!