Sunday marked nine years since mom passed. As the day approached, my feelings and jotted down thoughts turned into this, a letter to Death. I realize this is a personal story and may seem a bit morbid, but maybe by sharing it someone who’s lost a loved one – recently or long ago – will feel permission to mourn along with me; I think that’s okay. In fact, I’m not sure mourning ever really ends, just changes. We mourn at the time of loss, then again each holiday. More at key life events, and then those random moments when memories fill little moments in our days.
Yea, I’m not sure it ends, just changes.
But ultimately, I hope it’s encouraging, too, because in the end, death loses.
You are a most unwelcome yet constant companion. Down the street, doctors and nurses fend you off with skill, fighting for the lives of children and adults alike. On TV and phone screens we see gruesome images of war, lives claimed in the attempt to escape your co-conspirators, pain, suffering and murder. Yes, you’re present in every corner and crevice of the world, unfortunately, and your carnage is clear.
We first met in sixth grade, when you took our Maw-Maw, and then again only a few years ago with the death of kind-hearted, endearing Uncle Dale.
It’s been nine years since you took mom. Nine years since we last touched, skin to skin, her hand in mine. I remember how cold the room was that morning. Bone-chilling, really.
I wonder what would’ve happened had you not come that day in September, lurked for years in the form of sickness and disease, fended off by medicine, doctors and miraculous surgeries.
She and I would’ve become better friends, I think … the way you get closer when kids are old enough to realize parents are also people with interests, problems, joys, hobbies. I bet we would’ve done Sunday brunch with miks and the fam on occasion.
She would’ve definitely been around for high school and college graduation, cheering or maybe whistling among the crowd – between her and dad, they mastered the embarrassing whistle.
We would’ve talked about TV shows on the daily, for sure – I think she’d love one of my favorites, Once Upon a Time. She always was intrigued by whimsical stories and even Sci-Fi.
Maybe she would’ve had a chance to travel to New Zealand, a lifelong dream of hers – I’m pretty sure because of her love for Lord of the Rings. But if not, she probably would’ve been pretty content walking around barefoot in the grass and hangin’ with our pup pal, Toby.
Actually, she’d definitely be okay with that.
She would’ve talked me and Nikki through our relationship woes and eventually she’d meet Jake. Since I am her daughter, I’m sure she’d have plenty of questions and overanalyze the relationship but, like me, he would’ve totally won her over with his soft heart, devotion and sparkling blue eyes.
I’ll never know, and that’s devastating. On some nights, where silence makes way for thoughts to run wild, overwhelmingly sad.
And yet for me, it’s bearable. Yep, some people probably thought it was weird I didn’t cry at the funeral, but they didn’t know that despite it being the most difficult time in my life up to that point, I still had peace. I was able to have peace that passes all understanding, for real. Not just because death is “a part of life” as the cliché goes, but because you lose.
You haunt us, hurt us, claim our friends. We cry thousands of tears at your destruction. But in the end, your keen touch just prompts us to “change addresses” as an old preacher might say.
You, death, are a product of sin. Sin being the state we’re in thanks to Adam and Eve. Separated from God and no longer able to be in his presence, you came into the world.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” Romans 5
But, when Jesus came, living an obedient life fully man and fully God, only to later be crucified, his pure bled absorbed the penalty for sin. And when he died but was raised to life, he conquered death, too. Because of that sacrifice, you lose.
“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for fall men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
It’s with truth in mind that I rejoice, have courage. It’s with this understanding I can wipe the tears away and smile at the thought of a painless and genuinely happy eternity, for myself and my mom, who just years before passing had accepted these truths. It’s with this reality I can face mine.
So, I’ll still mourn. Yea, I’m not sure mourning ever ends, just changes. But I’ll leave you with these words from Paul … verses I’ve clung to since that bittersweet day in September.
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians
To you, mom – I will see you again!