I feel like a stranger! I have missed being here to chat--to share thoughts and laughter and awe. I've been down with a really bad cold--but woke up thankful this morning for returning energy and a voice that is croaking less with every minute.
I will be returning to the story of Mum's stroke, which I was part way through. Thank you for hanging in with me in my circuitous story telling. I so appreciate you being there to listen, and I promise a brief re-cap, to remind you where we were when I start again.
But tonight I'm thinking of those who are Home for the holidays; Mum is one of those and I know other blog readers also lost loved ones this year. I'm thinking of them too, knowing that our first Christmas without them we are aware of an empty place at the table; or in our bed; or a phone call we'll miss having to make.
I spoke to Rob on Saturday, just checking in. I know that he must miss her. Oh, he is still noticing the things he doesn't have to do to be sure; things that were hard work for him; like making sure that each of Mum's carers received a box of chocolates.
"There were so many of them Belinda," he said, and there were. They were all special women who genuinely cared, bringing Mum the sweetly perfumed gifts of talcum powder, shower gel and body lotion that I would find on her bathroom window sill when I came for my visits. I knew that they did not come from Rob! :)
And last Sunday, just a week ago today, we got the news that someone we supported at work; a woman I was just about to describe as "elderly," but caught myself as she was probably only 10 years older than me; had been given only 24-48 hours to live.
I went to the hospital on Sunday after church, and there met two other staff who had come, and one of her friends. I am not sure what I expected, but I found her sitting up in a wheelchair, singing loudly, and making up the funniest couplets, which unfailingly rhymed for the full two hours I was there!
It sounded like a mixture of Dr. Suess, Alice in Wonderland and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. She cheered us up no end, and one of the other patients said that she was proselytizing, she sang so much about God and Jesus (as well as monkeys and other more earthly things.)
There were days that followed where she was in a darker and more painful place, but finally, having made it many more than the 48 hours that were supposed to be her limit, she arrived at the end of this week at peace, in a private room, with her favourite music softy playing.
She left for home last night just before midnight. The manager of her group home, in an email this morning, gave an update and said that, "She is having a very good day today." And we know that she is. She; with her best friend who died in March this year; and my mum; and other moms and loved ones, are having their first Christmas in heaven.Oh, I think that surely they must celebrate it there, too.
As I sat this evening at my kitchen table, surrounded by rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon and the chaos that wrapping as an event is for me--I was listening to a CD that my friend Irene gave me for Christmas because she knows that I love some of the music of Israel Houghton and New Breed. I say "some," because it is his slower worship music that moves me most deeply, like the simple but profoundly beautiful Alpha and Omega.
But tonight as I listened, a song that sounded like the angels around the throne of God came through my ear buds. I closed my eyes and I imagined it so, even though I know that anything here can only be a pale shadow of the reality. As I heard the beautiful song, I saw the crowds around his throne; I knew that among them was Mum, and a friend freshly arrived just today. I walked the crowd slowly, as they worshiped, looking for those familiar faces. And I wept.
Dear friends, take a few minutes and listen. Imagine those you love who are there already and join your hearts with them in praise of our Saviour and Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!