Friday, March 18, 2011

The Sad Things

My mom died.

I was with her, and I am so thankful. There are a million possible scenarios where that wouldn't have been the case, but God gave me that gift. It was one of many, many gifts God has given me over the course of the last few weeks; one of many whispers: I'm here. I love you. I'm making this all new. I Am.

I feel like I've received a whole new education in faith, life, loss and grace in the last few weeks as well. It's not a degree I wanted, but it's one I'm glad I have. There is, of course, still so much to process, so much to grieve.

I'm suddenly and painfully aware of all the life events and milestones that stretch out in front of me where she'll be missing. How does one do the next big thing? The next load of laundry, the next art project with the kids– I can do those things. She's not missing there. But what about family meals? Holidays? The birth of this little one?

I believe now more than ever that there will be grace for those moments, too. It still feels a little overwhelming, though.

I couldn't sleep last night, so I picked up my phone and found a voice mail my mom left me on my birthday. Sometimes it pays off to never erase your voicemail. :-) I lay in the dark with the phone up to my ear and listened to it over and over and cried. It was just so good to hear her voice.

As I sat with her in the moments after she died, with my dad and my brothers and my aunts, I was truly shocked to realize that literally the moment she died, she didn't even look like herself anymore. I leaned in closer and wondered if, in another circumstance like an accidental death, if I had to identify this body, would I even be able to tell if it was my mom? She actually looked that different to me. It was just so obvious that she was no longer there.

And I thought about something that I read at least 10 years ago. At that time, I read this paragraph in a book and it stopped me cold. I thought it was one of the most accurate description of my mother I had ever read. Long before she had cancer. Long before I knew she was dying. Just in the midst of her 'normal' life. I came home after she died this week and found the dusty book on my shelf and found that paragraph and read it again. This was the woman I called Mother:

"Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read it no longer, and then you will not need the Bible any more, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you forever to His eternal home."

- Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible.


Soaring High said...

Praying for you in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Joy Stoner said...

That was so beautifully written. Praying for you and your family!
Hugs and love to you guys,

Anonymous said...

I can see how that paragraph has stuck with you over the years. Powerful words! I know only time will heal your heart, and going through all the "firsts" without your mom will be difficult, but don't you know she'll be there in spirit so proud of her family!

Lynette said...

My heart is truly breaking for you. I am reading this while sitting next to my mother who has been in a coma for ten days. A bright young doctor who has perhaps never lost anyone close to her wants to give my mom "a few more days" before she calls a meeting of the doctors to decide what to do with my mother. Her specialty is palliative care.

You WILL miss your Mom with every event you experience without her. How wonderful that you have inherited her love for God's word.

May His Word comfort us both in the days ahead until we meet the Word Incarnate face to face and can sing worship songs again with our mothers.

Smits Family said...

Thanks for Sharing Cherissa. You have been in my preyers and thoughts constantly!

Baden said...

This breaks my heart and yet swells it with joy; I don't quite know what tears I'm crying. It is so painful to be far away from you during this time. Thanks for this tribute to your mom. You are loved in Little Rock, and a whole lot farther out than that. :)

Anonymous said...

You have such a way with words. I appreciate your vulnerability here, & especially sharing those beautiful words at the end of your blog. "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing & shout the victory!" Continuing to pray for you all...

Anonymous said...


You don't know me. I followed your parents' blog, but they didn't know me either. I became one of the many, many anonymous followers who became transfixed and inspired and awed by your family's journey. I am humbled anew by how you have handled it and the grace and peace and love with which you said goodbye.

It's odd, I'm sure, to read such personal words from a perfect stranger, but perhaps this is the tiniest gift in return for the inspiration and insight you all have given me.

I lost my mom when I was 31. What I recall more vividly than just about anything about that time is talking with her before she died and asking (selfishly) "how am I supposed to do all of this without you?" Beyond the incredibly deep well of sadness, I was frightened - more than I've been since I was a small child.

It's been ten years plus since then and while I never stop missing her and I never stop appreciating her and I never really stop wishing she were here, I have indeed learned to live (quite successfully) in a world that she no longer inhabits in body. I think a big reason I can is because she truly does inhabit it (and me) in a true and abiding spirit.

I will keep you and your brothers in my thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks and years to come.

the schilps said...

we sang this at church on sunday, and i couldn't help but just cry and rejoice that, sweet miss vicki, that giant smile on her face, now stood before her savior. and that victory she claimed in cancer, is reality.

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

love you, rissa! i have been praying, friend, and, especially today.


Ms Debbie said...


You dont know me. I have followed your moms blog for a long time . My mom battled with cancer during the same time that your mom did. I lost my mom May 6th of last year. A few times I commented on your moms blog or even wrote them an email. Vicki was such an encouragement to me. As I read this post and now, the tears are flowing. ( Not good.. I am a preschool teacher that wears too much black mascara. BUT, it is naptime.. so I can recover. ) We knew we would lose my mom. She was so ready to be in Heaven and have her suffering end. The tears I have cried since then have not been for my mom but myself. Like you.. there are parts of my life that my mom wasnt in. Those.. I can do. It is all the little things that she was intricately woven in that hurt .. still almost a year later. I just had my first birthday without my mom. Yes, even at 45 I still needed my mom. I use my moms bible ( one of many) each Sunday now at church. Her bookmarks are there. Her writing and notes in the middle. It makes me feel like she is with me. I have flowers blooming now that my mom and dad gave me - a reminder of them each time I walk outside. There are so many things that I think " I wish I could tell mom about this" or " I wonder what mom would think." But then I remember the strong sound of her voice as I believe she got a glimpse of heaven before leaving us. She was a wonderful woman of God. I will pray for you in the many months ahead. You and I both have journeys to make that dont include our moms but lucky enough to have moms that made such strong impacts in our life-- that in reality, they walk by us day by day. I am praising God for the witness I am sure you will be in the coming months. I dont know if you have daughters but I do. I pray that I can be as great a Godly example to my daughter as my mom was to me. Blessings on your family. Enjoy the spring as I am sure your mom would want you to. Cry when you need to but always find a reason to smile again.