My mother left this world to be with Jesus on March 18, 2013. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, I find myself thinking of her and missing her more than I can express. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I’m posting some excerpts from a piece I read at Mom’s memorial service in March. This post is much longer than most, please bear with me on that.
It’s when I lie down at night that the memories come in like a flood. The earliest memories of Christmas mornings when Mom was more excited to watch us open our gifts than we were. “Don’t open your presents until you wake us up first!” she’d say. She didn’t want to miss the delight on our faces. There are memories of playing hooky from school with Mom’s full approval. We would “make a day of it,” shopping at Kresgees and afterwards eating lunch at the local burger joint. Or, letting us stay home some Tuesdays to spend time with our grandparents when they came to visit. She called it a bad case of Nana and Pampa-itis. Mom, always there, always loving, always sticking up for us, helping with school projects (more than likely last-minute and due the very next day), walking us to our girl scout meetings, wiping away our tears and making us laugh with her goofy sense of humor.
I think the most important thing mom taught me growing up was to be kind to others. She’d tell me, “Just think how you would feel if someone treated you that way.” She had a way of tenderizing our hearts and eliciting compassion for the plight of those less fortunate. Mom was our biggest fan and most loyal cheerleader. She encouraged us to do our best, to be thankful, to respect people and to love our family. I cannot think of one single moment in my life when I doubted Mom’s love for me. She loved me when I was most unlovable, and even at the height of my knuckleheadedness, Mom’s love was unconditional.
As an adult I continued to learn from Mom and came into a fuller realization of the sacrifices she made for her loved ones. She was an example in homemaking, in loving her husband and in putting others first. Mom somehow mastered the art of influencing us without being overbearing, the balance of sharing her life-experience without actually giving advice, and the feat of being involved in our lives without intruding. She welcomed our spouses into her heart fully and without wavering–no in-laws here! And, she was the quintessential grandma to her grandchildren. She told me once, “Terrie, you won’t believe it now, but you will love your grandchildren as much as you do your own kids.” (She was right, by the way.)
Graciously, God gave us many wonderful years with our Mother. Over the months before she died, Mom fought the fight of her life. She was so courageous, and true to who she was, I suspect that her bravado was more for her husband and family’s sake than for her own. But, I think it’s important to note that cancer had no victory over my mother. Her name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. She is absent from her body, but present with her Lord. Although her battle with disease was more than formidable, I am certain she see’s it now as a momentary and light affliction, nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory she is experiencing in heaven.
You see, Mom was loved by her husband, her kids, her grandkids, her family and her friends. But most importantly, she was beloved of God for the sake of His Son. My siblings and I had the privilege and honor of escorting our Mother into the waiting arms of Jesus. She left this world knowing she was loved and passed from death into life eternal.
It comforts me to know this is true. She is done fighting, done worrying, finished with carrying the pain and struggle of sickness. But how can this be? My mom is in Heaven at this very moment, enjoying what will be the grandest adventure above and beyond anything she could ever ask or imagine, not because she earned it, but because she was a sinner who needed a Savior (just like we all do) and cried out to Jesus for forgiveness of her sins. God graciously answered her prayer because whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. For it is by grace through faith Mom was granted so great a salvation, this was not her own doing nor by her own merit, but a gift from God. What good news this is! So think right now of the brightest and best enjoyment or the purest and lightest joy you can experience here on earth. Now, multiply that by an infinity of numbers and enlarge it by untold universes and you may get an idea of what Mom is basking in at this very moment and for an eternity of moments!
It’s been said that the degree to which you love someone is proportionate to the depth of grief you will experience when they are gone. And so we grieve. But not as those who are without hope! Very often I find myself speaking of Mom in the present tense, as if she were still alive. But, I do not correct myself because Mom is presently living in the glorious truth of God’s promises–all yes and amen in Christ Jesus! And she is with us here in a million different memories and a host of lasting joys; these a balm for our grief and a good and perfect gift coming down from the Father of Lights. It’s just like Mom to pass on to Glory before me. It will make it easier when my time comes because I know she’ll be waiting on the other side.
Where, oh death is your victory, and where, oh death is your sting?
By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel