It’s All Gonna Be OK

On July 13th, I left my house to pick up my son.  My other children were along for what we assumed to be an uneventful ride.  Only, it wasn’t. I got a call on the way that would change everything I knew about my faith, and my life.  MY dad called, and I answered saying quickly, “We are on the way.” He replied, quickly, that my mom wasn’t feeling so good.  He also proceeded to tell me that she had stopped breathing, and was on the way to the ER. My heart sunk. I felt the blood leave my face.  Everything stopped.  I told my dad I’d be at the ER, and we drove, in silent fear to Baylor Scott and White.  I remember pleading with the Lord, and knowing that I definitely was not ready to say good bye to Mom that day. I was strangely calm, yet terrified as for what was in store.

We beat my Dad there, and had talked to the doctors.  He gave me her watch, and some other valuables, and advised me that there was a heartbeat, and she was breathing.  With assistance, but still.  Hope blossomed.  Without going into deep detail, they found a 90% blockage, did a quick procedure, and cleared it.  We left with full confidence that we dodged a bullet.  Only, we hadn’t.

I woke up 20 times over the course of that evening, checking my phone, and always relieved when I saw nothing.  Until, I woke to a missed call from my dad, and a text that began with “Sad news.” I still haven’t read that text. I sprang up, gathered my family, and we raced to the hospital.  Hope, was still there.  Nothing was definite.  I remember asking my 10 year old how he was doing, and he said, “Hopeful.  Its gonna be okay.” I avoided the hospital room for the first hour or so.  Hid in the waiting room.  Talked to my kids, prayed, plead with God…until I remembered a document my Mom wrote when her Mom passed.  I don’t remember all of it, but it dealt with the fear of dying alone.  She voiced her own mother’s concern for it, a well as her’s.  And I knew, it was time to fulfill her wishes.  For such a time as that, was upon me, and I was pretty sure that the cup wasn’t going to pass.

I walked into the room, and greeted my parents best friends, and sat.  And I promised her I wouldn’t leave, until.  And I kept that promise.  It’s the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I watched it all unfold.  The news became worse, and worse, and worse.

At some point, it was just she and I, and a hospital room. The way my relationship began with her, was being replayed, under vastly different circumstances.  July 14th 2018 and November 7, 1971.  The dates of my living relationship with Mom.  I cried.  I smiled.  And I saw, from the corner of my eye, an angel.  And I knew in my soul, that it was over. That the angel wasn’t here to save the day, but to release a spirit of comfort.  I watched my dad break down, my wife, my children,  her friends. I took it all in, until Dad called us into the room and advised us of his decision.  It was time to say goodbye.  Until. And we did.  Dang it, we sucked it up.  I held her hand through the bitter end.  I thanked her for being my mother. I kissed her forehead, her cheek, more than a few times.  And with her husband, her children, grandchildren, and lifelong friends, we watched God take her away.  And we did it with dignity, and grace. As she would have had it.  My dad played a song as she walked away, “Go Rest High On That Mountain.” And that, she would do. Because God’s grace is sufficient. I remember very little details.  I do remember speaking to my family, and have a vague recollection of what I said: “Because we love Jesus, we will respect God’s sovereignty.We don’t have to like it, we don’t have to agree with it, but He is God, and He is sovereign, and we will respect it.  Because, my Mom would have expected we do so.”

And when it was time to go, I released her hand, I kissed her forehead, and for one of the last times, I said, “Love ya Mom.  We’ll see ya in a bit.” The same thing I said to her when I dropped my son off a few days before with them.  My last words to her as she stood, and as she laid in that bed.  They were always my last words, and they stand true today. Because, in a moment, we will see her.  And that is the solace in all of this.  That it isn’t good bye, but…we’ll see ya.  It’s strange how a simple goodbye can become prophetic, no? As I turned, I watched my Dad, who continues to amaze me.  He was so thankful to the nurses, the doctors, the staff….I don’t understand that man, but I do know I will never fill his shoes.  That is a special, anointed man that has travelled this journey far better than I.  With grace, class, and dignity.  Continuing to put others before himself.  Just, amazing to take in.

So, from there, I fled to the only place that offers solace.  The Prayer Room.  and I sat before Jesus, stunned.  I’d like to tell you I thanked Him ,and submitted to the sovereignty of the situation, but I didn’t.  I felt it.  And gosh, it hurt.  The realization that I had become a motherless child sunk in, and kicked me in the gut.  And that would be a familiar feeling over the following month.  And even as a write this. And for the next week, w would drive, and talk.  I threw myself into busyness. The viewing would come, and pass.  And to be honest, it was actually, somewhat enjoyable.  Seeing so many friends, mentors, and others, old and new, was a nice break from pain.  Within days the funeral would come, and to be honest, that was not painful.  Perhaps because I bore the pressure of speaking there, and having my kids ready to do the same, perhaps because she was still on this side of the earth. The burial would come and go.  I was the last one to touch that coffin as they took her away and, of course I said, Love ya mom, we’ll see ya in a bit.

I, foolishly, believed I had conquered pain.  That I survived, relatively unscathed.  What I failed to understand was, it was only beginning.  The pain I would feel that night was, horrible.  The next month was a slew of travels.  anything to not sit still.  There was a week in Kansas City.  A day in Austin. 10 days on the road with my wife and boys.  The beach.  I prayed when I could find a moment that I wasn’t angry at God. And, I began to accept my new reality. So, what did I learn about God in this?

Psalm 136, His steadfast love endures forever.  Even when we’re mad at Him.

And I learned that Psalm 139 isn’t just for babies in the womb. “Where shall I go from your Spirit? “Your hand shall lead me, Your hand shall cover me.” And mostly that, with God, my darkness isn’t so dark. I struggled with wanting to drink. To scream. To not feel. But I did it sober, I felt every bit of it.

And I learned that God works through Instagram.  I’ll never forget hearing the song, which I just heard again that one of our worship leaders declared during her set: “It’s all gonna be ok.” And, it is.  God hasn’t forsaken me. I may be a little crazy, and I may have some more writing to do, but I’m ok.  Well, as ok as I can be, in this moment.  I am still in love with God. I still disagree with His decision, and that’s ok.  I’m still going to cling to Him…even if I had to say goodbye to my mother, I will press on.  Because that is what she would have wanted.  So that is what I will do.

I know your life
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain.
You weren’t afraid to face the devil,
You were no stranger to the rain.
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done.
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son.
Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve.
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing.
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done.
Go to heaven a-shoutin’
Love for the Father and the Son.

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