To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
-Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (NKJV)
No More Time to Mourn
For me, this past year has been a time to mourn. A year ago this fall, I stood by helplessly and watched in a trance, the life of my beloved Mother slowly deteriorate into nothing. A strong resolve to live started out powerfully against the fight of cancer, but with every day of a constant badgering of attacks, and not one shred of good news in sight, my Mother’s will gradually disintegrated under the heavy weight of the disgusting cancerous beast until there wasn’t an ounce of breathe left, and the heart refused to beat.
When her spirit and soul left my Mother’s heart, I felt also, like my spirit and soul had left mine. The only difference between my Mom and me, though, was that my heart was still beating and hers wasn’t. I still had to go on. She didn’t…not here anyway. No, my Mother was in Paradise, running through the sweet-smelling Lilly fields of perfection. She wasn’t on the edge of Glory; No, she was right smack in the middle of it. She was in perfect peace with her Jesus in Heaven. But I wasn’t. No. I was left here on earth with the ghastly residue of death still dripping off of me, and I had to figure out where to go next. What to do. How to live. The umbilical cord had been completely and finally torn from me, and all that remained was a huge, gaping hole of pain and agony, coupled with shock and disbelief.
She was too young. I wasn’t ready for this. We had plans of things we were going to do. I didn’t want to let her go. But, I had to. I had no choice. Unfortunately, death never asks for your permission. No, it comes to steal, kill and destroy, and it had done just that. Death came and accomplished its vile mission.
I found myself left standing there with my head spinning. “What just happened?” I would ask myself over and over again. I wanted to pick up the phone and talk to my Mom about my feelings, when it would hit me. I can’t. Nor will I ever be able to again. At least not in this life. Death is final, and it was slowly starting to sink in. Slowly. Very slowly.
I remained in shock for quite some time, just going through the motions. We were all born with the innate ability to survive, to eat, drink and sleep. And that’s what I did. I had been a wife and a mom long enough to know what to do, and how to care for my family, without giving it much thought. It was habitual for me, and that’s how I did it. Everything became strictly routine at that point, because my mind was put on pause, numb with pain. If I thought too deeply about what had just happened, my soul went into cardiac arrest, and I couldn’t function. I couldn’t afford to be malfunctioning because I had children and a husband. Not only that, it was Christmas, and I had to get through the holidays.
So, I threw myself into Christmas. Some may say, “Oh no! It happened during the holidays!” But, in some ways, that was my only saving grace. It was a great distraction for me, and I absorbed myself into it as much as possible. The festive side wasn’t there, but the actions of the holiday spirit guided me through to January.
Once the holidays were over, and the daily grind of life returned, I was faced with the solemn reality that my Mom, my best friend, really was gone, and she wasn’t coming back. It wasn’t a little get-away that she had ventured out on, but it was a permanent removal of her from my life. No more phone calls, no more birthday cards or presents, no more Mother’s Day gifts….no more anything. She was gone, period, and that was that.
I was your “A-typical” grieving soul. I went through all of the emotions and feelings in order of grief as though they were mail-ordered from the Ivy League Psychology 101 textbook, and hand-delivered to me on my front porch. Shock, disbelief, grief, depression, anger, and bitterness. You name it. I had it.
I knew what I was going through as I was going through it, and I chose to embrace all of it. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I grasped each emotion as a saturated sponge, and squeezed the life out of every thought and feeling, that it would assist me in the healing process because I knew I had to get through this….somehow.
Now I want you to know that I am a woman with Faith. Yes, I do believe that if we call on God, he will answer us. God tells us that all through His Word, the Holy Scriptures, and I believe that to be true. So, with that thought in mind, you have to know that I was asking for His help all along the way, because without Him, I knew I would be a helpless mess, with no hope to glean from. And because I did do that, I was able to have hope. I had to believe that my pain and empty despair wasn’t a permanent fixture in my life, and one day, I would feel happiness again.
Time Heals All Wounds?
So, I continued through with time. They say that time heals all wounds, and while I believe that now, and know that to be true, I have to also add that time AND God will heal all wounds. I think we need both, time and God, for the healing process.
This year we decided to relocate. We stayed long enough, in my mother’s town, to make sure all of my family members were going to be all right, and then we moved. I needed a new place to call home, and a new start to my journey of life without my Mom.
Since then, I can honestly tell you that I have found pure joy and happiness. I wake up in the mornings with a fresh excitement to life, with a genuine anticipation of the future. It hasn’t even been a year since her passing, and I am already on track to live a great rest of my life. Do I miss her? Of course I do. But I don’t feel the gut-wrenching pain I did before; only a deep respect and love for her, blended in with the honor of having known such a wonderful soul.
When I read through Ecclesiastes, I find that what I had experienced was okay. And while life and death is a part of our journey, we have to realize that so is mourning. The part we can’t forget though, is that mourning is only for a time. I had to make the conscious decision not to mourn anymore. I had to make a decision that it was time to pick myself up, and move forward. That isn’t something that anyone could do for me, but me and God alone. No other human can decide that for you, either; you have to do that yourself.
I think that life is too short (and too fulfilling) to live it being sad. I have too much to give, to keep it hidden within myself. I realized that if I didn’t pick myself up and start living again, then, not only did death take my Mom, but it would have been a victor over me too. I refused to let that happen. Life isn’t just about breathing, but it’s about living, actual living. Being. Doing. Loving.
Yes, there is a time to mourn, but there is also a time to heal, a time to laugh, a time to dance, and a time for peace. While life hands us things we don’t like, we don’t have to allow those things to stop us. We don’t have to let them paralyze us. They are all temporary events that will pass with time. Psalm 30:5 tells us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Joy will come if we allow it to. If we chose to allow the Son to rise in our dawn, and let the morning shine on our day, the night will pass, and so will the mourning.
Never Forget…Those Before AND After
We can’t forget those who have gone on before us, but we also can’t forget about those who are still here, the ones who are following along behind us. They need what we have to give them. They need us. As long as our hearts are still beating, so is the love we have to share. It’s time to choose love over sadness, joy over grief and life over death. While there is certainly a time for mourning, there is also a time for living. And that time is now. Grab it while you can, because you don’t know how much time you have left.