It’s not over till it’s over.
Even when we’re sure it’s over.
I shared in my last blog post (“Perseverance 101”) some of the circumstances surrounding my mother’s illness — colon cancer — that eventually took her life. There were so many facets to the several-year ordeal, I could write about it for days on end, or about my mom for weeks, maybe months. Who knows how long.
From picking strawberries and cotton in the fields of Arkansas to meeting the most handsome man stationed at Fort Chaffee and being swept off her feet and whisked away to the northern plains state of South Dakota and marrying him, stories of her life left me entranced, enlightened, and taught me many lessons. Some of them were quite painful, however … because they were at my mom’s expense.
I was witness to one such story.
Even though Mom turned the tables on her oncologist one day and gave him a warning (“If you ever know I have less than a year to live, don’t tell me”), the rest of us knew we were experiencing some of the last-time-we’ll-do-this events with her as each day went by. So, wanting to create a special opportunity for her to celebrate, my brother and his girlfriend decided to marry sooner rather than later and in the city where I lived, which would allow Mom to attend and be part of the occasion.
My parents had divorced when I was 11 years old, and it was a devastating event in our lives. My mother had great difficulty overcoming the sorrow and frustration of the divorce and harbored immobilizing emotion within her for years, to her detriment. I wondered what her response would be, in this delicate season of her life, to a situation that would require her and my father to spend time in an intimate setting. Those types of scenarios hadn’t always created the most pleasant atmospheres over the years. Nevertheless, as she was dying, my brother was getting married and my father would be attending.
Dad arrived the day before the wedding and came over to my house. He knew of the circumstance of Mom’s illness and that she was living with me, but there would be little chance they would see one another since, in her weakened state, she rarely left the confines of her room.
Then he dropped a bomb.
“I would like to visit your mother while I’m here.”
Always dutiful, I replied, “Okay,” and escorted him to her bedroom.
“Mom, you’ve got a visitor.” She knew she would see him at some point during the weekend, but I’m not sure she was ready for this … or what happened next.
I shut the door and retreated to quietly work in the kitchen so they could have their privacy and I could calm the near-panic-attack response of my inner child.
A while later, my dad came into the kitchen announcing he was going to go to his hotel for a while. “So, how did it go?” I asked as I walked him to the door. The little girl inside of me was curious but scared at the same time.
That’s when the seismic shift in the universe occurred and the death-tinged cloud that had poured buckets of grief into our family’s lives showed its silver lining. More accurately, God showed up. In a big way.
Do you know what it’s like to wish and hope and long for something and you’ve hoped and prayed for it for years, and suddenly, out of nowhere, it happens?
“I love you and I always have.” Dad had chosen to release the 25-year-old tension between them.
When I entered her room a few minutes later, Mom was glowing. Is it possible for a dying woman to glow? Her countenance had changed. It was as if she had seen the Promised Land and now she could die a peaceful death. Just as miraculous as Lazarus coming forth from the grave, God did what we believed wasn’t possible, calling forth what had been dead, reviving hearts, leaving us all with a sweet memory of redemption.
My dad is gone now, too, but that doesn’t mean that “it” is over. The forgiveness and grace that was extended between them remains as one of the greatest gifts that God could ever give us, along with the reminder that it’s never too late to make things right.
The same opportunity exists for you. Is there anyone to whom you need to express love or offer forgiveness?
Do it while there is time. It’s not over until it’s over.
He has sent me … to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3
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Pam Freitag Weyant traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. Her best friends are her steno machine (she works as a freelance court reporter), her aged but adorable cocker spaniel Jake, and books. She is grateful for time spent traveling, writing creative nonfiction, and working out. Her goal is to share her story with others so they may also find freedom in a redemptive Savior. Read more of Pam’s Breath on Paper bio here.