Saturday, March 28, 2015

When they die without us

Leave. They all do that. Some indiscriminately—young, old and in between. Some at the most inconvenient times, like when you’ve just boarded the cruise ship for your long-deserved vacation or have just begun to teach the seven-week family relationships series you committed to. It’s then you get the news the one you’d previously postponed these things for has died.

Some slip off accommodatingly so—politely leaving while you keep watch. Maybe they couldn’t hold out any longer and resigned themselves to “I hate to go off like this while you’re feeling so glum and all, but I really can’t hold on any longer.” Or maybe they just give up and say,” OK, you insist on being here—know I love you—and now, good-bye.”

I’ve heard they don’t like to go if you’re hanging on, which makes me sad about my mom’s passing because several of us siblings slept in her room around the clock. I didn’t expect her to live but I wanted to be with her when she left. One of my favorite authors, Abigail Thomas, in her memoir, Three Dog Life, expressed it this way: “We were afraid to leave him. It was as if we were trying to hatch an egg. Keeping him warm with our presence.”

 Finally, after weeks of watching, I stood at the foot of mom's bed and said to everyone, I can’t take it anymore. I’m going home.” My sister-in-law-nurse said, “Wait a minute, it won’t be long.” So I waited and rubbed those so-many-times-stubbed and-broken toes sticking out from the sheets and she left. Just like that. No fanfare. No angels’ wings batting. No clouds of glory.

But I knew, she knew.

So just now, my friend called to say her husband had died the minute she left to go for lunch. After weeks with him, changing bedpans and propping him up to eat, and holding her breath with his every prolonged nap, and experimenting with every alternative application for colloidal silver she could find because everyone else had given up, he up and left when she was a mile down the road.

She wondered about this. Felt bad. Thing is. I know he loved her. He was secure in her love for him. Recognized her fierce dedication to helping him live.

So why did he go off without her?

Was love too strong a line that he couldn’t break free?

I don’t know. Won’t even pretend to know.
But this I think: We want this life to be our all. We want this to be our reality.

But it isn’t. My mom knew it. My friend knew it. I know it. I want to impress my children with it.

Jesus rose from the dead. I expect to too.

My faith embraces a life beyond. But I need to make it real. Make it mine.

If I died tomorrow, I would say, in spite of the tough childhood family scene, in spite of the self-centered, culture-believing lies I’ve lived… I have been redeemed, and I have had a great

No regrets, unless that maybe someone I mistreated wouldn’t know how much I wish their forgiveness.

I write this, and I hope I can grasp it so firmly that it is my reality. When I leave this body, I will be with God forever. Think about this next week.




  1. Amen, well said. We're not supposed to build our house in the airport terminal

  2. Marcia, this post will stir within for quite some time. It's both heavy and heavenly.

    1. It was in response to my friend's call Cathy--no filtering or writerly edits. Hope it's more heavenly than heavy! Thanks for stopping here so faithfully.

  3. Marcia:

    My faith also embraces a life beyond, and I will be thinking about that this week.

    I also like what Cathy Baker said.

    ~ Richard

    1. And I suspect we'll be seeing each other there--writing or taking some spectacular pictures!

  4. Oh dear Marcia, this speaks so clearly to me. I guess reaching 60 and watching my Mom "leave" at 76 brings it so very close. I fear going slowly and painfully and being out of control. Mostly I just try not to think about it too much.

    1. Guess we have to practice thinking more about the arrival than the departure, Susie!


Love to hear from you