“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” — 1 Corinthians 13:12
When I was in high school, I was on the swim team, and my mother was an assistant principal and working on her doctorate in education at a small university right across the street from my high school. So on some evenings after she finished her classes, Mom would drive me home from swim practice.
As she drove home, I would listen to music on the radio and look out the window and daydream, creating fanciful stories in my mind and often laughing to myself.
My mother asked one of her professors in child psychology if this behavior should be a cause for concern, and thankfully the professor told her this was just a sign of my creative mind.
As Mom and I walk together on this final stretch of her life’s journey, my fanciful imagination — or perhaps it is more realistically stated as my reluctance to face reality — has once again become an issue.
On Tuesday, Mom’s hospice nurse came for a weekly check-in. During her visit, Mom said she has been praying God will take her quickly. The hospice nurse asked if Mom was in any pain, and Mom said she was not. But Mom frequently experiences periods of confusion and an out-of-control feeling, not knowing what is happening in her mind. This confusion causes her anxiety, and she wants it to end.
She is not afraid of dying because she knows that heaven awaits her, and she longs to be with Jesus.
Hearing her words, I am ashamed to admit, frustrated me and made me angry. I said, “Why are you in a hurry to leave? If you’re not in pain, why don’t you want to stay here with me?”
I can’t understand her perspective because I want her presence in my life, and I can’t imagine my life without her. In my ignorance, the absence of pain means everything must be OK.
And yet when I am being more realistic and thoughtful and not so selfish, I can reflect on Mom’s diminished capacity and what her world has become in the past six months, in the past year.
I look at photos of her a year ago in Fort Lauderdale when she was still able to walk using her walker, when she got her hair done every Saturday so she would look her best when she went to church on Sunday and saw her friends. She was the belle of the ball and much beloved, still much beloved as evidenced by all the phone calls she receives even now and the several vases of flowers that have been sent from friends in Florida and brought by new friends in Breckenridge.
Now her life consists of spending most hours in bed and daylight hours from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. sitting in her wheelchair coloring in a coloring book, speaking to friends who call, but also struggling to remember what she is supposed to be doing.
Unless I stop and force myself to take this inventory of what has been lost, I don’t see it. I still see my mother in all her glory, her beauty, her wisdom, and I want her to live forever.
Whereas my mother, in all her beauty and wisdom, sees things as they are and is ready to let go, to begin a perfect life with God.
I am determined to learn to see things from her perspective and make every precious moment count, to participate in this journey on her terms.
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; and it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” — 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.