In September of 2014, my mother passed from this life to the next. Plagued with cancer for a number of years, I never once heard her complain, and the majority of the time, she ruled cancer with an iron fist, determined not to give in to the deadly disease. You would never know that she was sick when you were around her as she would flash her humble smile and greet you with a hug. She wanted no attention and certainly wanted no talk about cancer in her presence. A week before her death, I got a phone call from my sister telling me that Mom could not get out of bed that morning and EMS had been summoned. I met my family at the hospital, and even then, Mom was in good spirits and almost apologetic that we had all left our responsibilities to come to the hospital to see her. We didn’t realize just how sick Mom was. A doctor came in and examined her and told us his focus was going to be on making her comfortable. I didn’t understand his treatment plan as this was so different than it had ever been. Prior to this day, the doctors always had a plan. “This” was what they were going to do…and somehow it always worked. She would recover enough to go home and resume her routines. Not this time. I followed the doctor out of the hospital room and asked what he meant by simply making my mom “comfortable”? He looked at me, and for the first time, reality hit home. Mom wasn’t going to get better. In fact, he estimated that Mom had six months to live. As it would turn out, my mother would live only six more days. We made arrangements to take her home and place her under Hospice care. Death’s grip began to tighten on my mother very quickly. The pain level heightened dramatically fast. The doctors ordered morphine to keep her pain at bay. We quickly learned the power of this drug. It did control her pain, but there were other side effects including hallucinations and the fact that it caused her to sleep deeply. She only awoke when the morphine began to fade. Once that powerful drug was again administered, she would drift back into a deep coma. Mom was dying. She had lived a selfless life. She was generous to friends, family, and strangers. She had fought a good fight, but it was clear to my sisters and me that anything short of God’s intervention, and my mother would soon leave this world. I knew that time was limited. Even the Hospice nurses confirmed that time was short. We were given instructions that would help us to understand when the very end was at hand.

I began to secretly wish for one more opportunity to thank my mother for all of her goodness. I wanted to express my gratitude for her sacrifice, her commitment, and her love to our family. I wanted to thank her for being my mother. I wished and I prayed. It was a Friday night, and all of our family had been summoned. We had been told that if we wanted to say goodbye, now was the time. We had been told that even in a comatose state, my mother could hear us. so, we did our best to talk to her despite not knowing for sure if she really knew what we were saying.  To our amazement, my mother suddenly awoke in the crowded room. One by one each of her children and grandchildren filed by her bed to say our last words on this side of eternity to the family matriarch. Incredibly, Mom was coherent and thinking clearly. I held her hand and told her I loved her. She smiled and called me by my boyhood nickname, “Buddy” and said, “I love you too.” I thanked her for all she had done for me–for being a good mother and a good wife to my dad. She simply nodded her head. I promised that we would take care of dad and that it was OK for her to leave this earth for Heaven. And with those words, she drifted back to sleep. In less than 24 hours, my mother was ushered into the presence of Jesus. I held her hand as she gained victory over death and entered into eternal bliss with her heavenly Father.

In the moments following her death, I remembered how good God had been. He blessed me and my family to be able to say goodbye to my mother. What a gift it had been! God had awakened my mother and allowed us to spend a few minutes with her before her home going. I’ll never forget those few minutes that God graciously gave us. If I could go back and relive my life, I know one thing I would do. I would tell my mother that I loved her every chance I had. Proverbs 3:27says, Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say it today. Express those sentiments while you can. It has been said so many times that the day is coming when you cannot say it. I am glad that the Lord granted me one last opportunity to say, “I love you, Mom.”