Listening to the Dishwasher

At 9:14 am today, I received the call that my mother woke up today in the arms of Jesus.

She died early this morning, ending a 7+ month battle with cancer. Her pain, suffering, and limitations are no more. She is dancing in freedom right now, and has met her Savior and her Lord face to face. What a magnificent transition.

News of her death was not really unexpected for me—at least as much as something like that can be. The events of the past few days left me knowing things were serious, and that short of a miracle of God, she was living her last moments here on earth. Every time my phone rang, I jumped, not sure who or what to expect. It may sound strange, but after listening to the message this morning, I let out a genuine sigh, both of sadness and of relief.

Seeing someone you love living under the curse of a disease like cancer for months, unable to do most things around the home, or to be able to read and enjoy a book, is incredibly difficult. My life has been filled with countless uncertainties the past few months, and now that season has closed.

I don’t mean to minimize my sadness; losing a parent at my age is something no one should have to go through. My mother was a very special person to me, and I felt very close to her. I’ve already had things I wish I could talk about with her, experiences, questions, ideas—and I won’t be able to do that until I too meet the Lord.

There are days ahead for me that will be filled with tears and sorrow. They are a testament to the influence of a loving, caring mother who is living behind a very large hole in my life. I don’t ever expect to reach a point where I don’t miss her; and I don’t want to. She was such a blessing to me, and I am blessed to carry so many wonderful memories of her with me. I expect to have moments of missing her throughout the rest of my life. But that’s ok.

It can be ok because God is with me right now, and will be. It is by His awesome grace that I have had a day filled with more laughter than tears, and it is by His grace that I can trust that everything will be ok, even if it is hard. What a comforting knowledge, too, to know that she is truly in a better place. I am comforted knowing that things are so much better for her. I feel more of my day has been a genuine celebration of her victory than sorrow for my loss.

I was able to have many good conversations with my mom in her last days. There is nothing I needed to say. Thanksgiving was a good time to be with her, to talk, and just enjoy her one last time. I am grateful for those moments with her. I was also blessed to talk to her Tuesday night, and say goodbye. Many people never get to say goodbye to the ones they love, and I was able to. She told me she loved me, and I could tell her that I loved her, and that I would be ok. Apparently, she couldn’t really talk after that night. Even if I had been home, I wouldn’t have been able to say anything I hadn’t already, or to interact with her much.

Now, I can continue my life. I’ll never forget her, nor would I want to. I’ll have nights of great sorrow, as I remember what I have lost. I’ll have moments I pick up the phone, about to call and tell her something, only to remember that form of communication no longer works. I’ll long for the things a mother does to her child, the ways she spoiled me, the pet peeves she tried to instill in me, and the meals only your mother can make. But now I know she is at peace, and I can live my life without worrying for her.

She’d want me to do that too. We both knew from the beginning of summer that her time was short, and I asked if she wanted me to take the semester off, or at least think about it. Without hesitation, the first time I brought that idea up, she said she wanted me to live my life independent of her cancer. It was perhaps the one best way she could resist cancer: to keep it from affecting the lives of those around her any more than it had to. So I know that she’d want me to be laughing with my friends again, to be talking about what I want to do, my dreams, my ideas, my plans, and to be living a normal life.

She is interwoven in the fabric of that life, and living it will reminder me of her every day, but that is the way I want it. I don’t want to dwell on what has been lost, but to remember what I had. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, but to enjoy what God has given me. The past several days, and ultimately the past several months have reminded me of how much I have. I am a truly blessed man.

To each and everyone in my life, I can’t express how much you have meant to me in this time of my life. I am so wonderfully supported by each of you. The hugs, the offers for rides, and “what every I can do for you” is so incredibly meaningful and incredible. God’s grace has shown through each of you. I couldn’t possibly ask for a better group of people to surround me right now. I am so grateful for the ways you have made my day easier, listened to me laugh, relax, talk, and be silent. If there is one thing I do wish I could tell my mom right now, it is how far above and beyond each of you has gone, and how well supported I have felt. That is no small matter, and has made one of the worst possible situations be experienced in the best possible way.

I don’t mind being asked how I am, how my family is, if I miss her, what my plans are, or any of that. Please don’t feel shy about asking those questions. Know that if ever in the coming days, it’s too much for me, or I just don’t want to, I won’t. If I need to be alone, I will be; and if I need to be quiet, I’ll let you know. Don’t feel the pressure of trying to know whether you should ask me or not; just ask. I both need and want to talk about my mom’s life, and all the good things that go with that; and I may need times to just shake my head and wonder why this happened.

I’m leaving on Sunday. My dad and brother are well, and we’ve already had some good conversations about everything; her life, our feelings, our hopes, and what is to come.

I’m at peace, and things will be alright. It’s as though I’m listing to the dishwasher right now; the kitchen is clean, that task is done, and I’m moving on with my evening. The machine hums methodically, normally. I can rest knowing that is over, and continue on with my night. The sound of a dishwasher is so normal, and peaceful—all is well.

So I’m sitting right now, pondering the wonders of God’s blessing, celebrating the life I was privileged to be a part of, and contemplating what the future holds. I’m sitting, listening to the dishwasher.

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