Just four months ago, my mother was steeped in grief. She was told that her beloved husband, Bob (my stepdad), who had battled cancer for four years may only have days to live. Though he was the one with brain and lung cancer, he took care of many details of her daily life such as preparing her medicines, arranging for the tv’s to be set to her favorite Filipino channel, and such.
My strong mother is almost never downcast but during that season as she stood at the threshold of loss, her heavy heart weighed down her whole being until her stance was like that of a lost child’s.
By God’s grace I was able to spend my stepdad’s final week with them but I was at a loss on how to comfort my mom. I sought the Lord’s help and He gave me the words, “Remember you have always been a survivor since you were a child when you didn’t know much. All the more you can survive anything as an adult now that you know the Lord is with you.”
I shared with her the memory He brought back to mind when she was about ten years old under the strict rules of her Chinese father. When she was up to mischief, at the command of her mother, her brother hoisted her up a tree with a sack tied around her waist. One day, she asked a carpenter working on the roof to come down to the ground so she could ask him why his bare toes were shaped like ginger. As soon as this report reached the ears of her mother, the sack was brought forth. As she anticipated the dreaded shameful punishment, she came up with a plan. Sack around her waist, on her way up, she put her hands together in a praying position then sang the song that the Angel from the Easter play sang as she was raised to the ceiling— Salve Regina.
The memory cracked her up and her tear tank of sadness detoured into bubble bursts of comic relief.
Bob passed away two days after her birthday; this was her life’s greatest loss. It is a poignant point when you hear the privileged call to comfort your mother… It is only by God’s gracious favor that I could be of use in this department.
Many years before, Bob gave me a Magic Jack gadget which allows me to call them for free from anywhere in the world as long as I have wifi. On the almost daily phone calls I made to my mom after he passed, whenever she said, “I’m here all by myself,” I would remind her that God is with her and she is never alone. Praise God for His faithfulness to comfort and strengthen her progressively, turning her mourning into gladness, even dancing. After a few months, she declared that she had come to accept that even if she wept all day every day, Bob wouldn’t return. The urn of his ashes remains in the home where they made many happy memories together; she refers to her life with him “the best years she has known” as she considers him God’s sweet reward.
Last week for Bob’s first birth anniversary, while wondering what her mindset is about widowhood as her new normal, the Lord blessed me with an opportunity to be her travel companion to the Philippines where she has for many, many years longed to visit.
Not everyone is in the compilation of precious moments below yet they have been around in spirit. I am so thankful for the gift of each and every loving family member and friend who has been there for the journey. I could almost picture Bob sitting with us from a corner with a wink and a smile.
Comfort For Those Who Mourn:
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Matthew 5:4 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn.