Let this song play as you read this blog. I heard this song in my heart many times these last few weeks, and I knew it meant that someone close to me was going to die. Fast forward to last night. A text message came across my phone. It was my mother-in-law telling me to call her. She said that my daughter’s father had called her last night, with the news that my mother had been found dead in her apartment yesterday morning. I called the apartment building where she lived and talked to the building manager. It is true—my mother is gone, I don’t yet know what she died from.
This blog is dedicated to my mother. She had so many disappointments in her life; I watched so many of her dreams get shattered; two failed marriages to two men she once deeply loved, trying to get a college degree that her epilepsy and other obstacles placed forever out of her reach. My mother was a strong woman, but a woman can only see her dreams crushed so many times before she just quits trying. The last thing I saw her get excited about was when she got a job at the cafeteria at the Mental Health Building in Lyons. She worked there for about a month before she had a seizure while she was on the clock. They told her they were going to have to let her go. My mother spent the last years of her life sick with one thing or another; she developed emphysema from years of smoking, she spent most of her time in her apartment watching television, and putting on weight, which led to other health problems, she had trouble walking, and had to use a walker. I watched each seizure kill more and more brain cells, and the cornucopia of medicines turn her into an unpredictable stranger.
I pray she is in Heaven. I won’t know until I get there myself. I wish I could turn off my emotions. I have a bitter ball of tears inside me that keeps trying to make me vomit my grief. But life won’t stop for my grief; I can’t fall apart. When my sister died, I was the strong one for everyone else; my mother said I was her rock. This time, I am wiser than that. I cannot be anyone’s rock, I cannot be strong for anyone else, not even myself; it is not in me. Only Jesus can be the rock. And His is the only strength that can get me through this.
In honor of the twelfth anniversary of 9/11, I am sharing this video with the soundtrack song from Titanic, which ironically was recently re-released on Blu-ray. Professor Clark would call that serendipity. This song has a special meaning to me; this was my sister’s and my favorite movie, and she bought it for me in the Christmas of 1998, the last Christmas we had together. She died on June 6, 1999, along with my unborn niece. My sister April had epilepsy, like my mother; she went to take a nap one day, and had a continuous series of seizures, until her heart stopped. I like to think she died peacefully, never feeling the seizures. I like to think she simply closed her eyes on earth, and opened them in Glory, without having to feel the pain of dying.
There is a line in this song that says: “Every night in my dreams I see you.” When April first died, I had a recurring dream every night that she had not died, but she had just gone on a long unexpected trip, and she wasn’t dead like everyone thought. I think this was one of the ways that Jesus was showing me that April had gone on a long journey, and I would see her again, even though it may be a long time, I would see my sister again. I wondered if she had made it to Heaven, Jesus showed me, at a low point in my life that she had. I was grieving for my sister, and grieving over some other things going on in my life, when I happened to open my bible, randomly, not looking for any particular verse. My bible opened on this verse, 2 John 1:1 “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;” This gave me chill bumps; April was my older sister, and God was speaking to me clear as day. Then my eyes fell on another verse: “The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.” I knew God was telling me that my sister and my niece were in Heaven with Jesus. I believe my mother is too. Death is an enemy, but it is not a forever enemy. Jesus defeated death on the cross, and because of that, I will see my mother, sister, niece, and my firstborn who I lost to a miscarriage.