About a year ago I lost my mom to cancer. I watched her helplessly as it grew. I could see it bulging through her abdomen. I watched in awe and despair as it took over and one day she breathed her last “I love you” to me.
I have never felt so human than in that very moment.
I had always wondered what it would feel like to live out that type of tragedy. Would my mind go dark, but then suddenly surface an hour later while talking to the nurse? Would I cry and feel lost for days? Would I suddenly have a panic attack and freeze in fear unable to move and think?
No. It was strange. I was so aware of all of my thoughts. They were stupid thoughts actually. I thought they would have more meaning while I watched my mother struggle for breath. But I thought, “I should text my aunt. She should be here. Wait. No. Don’t text now. This is not a time to text.” Or I thought, “I need to cancel the help we have coming this morning. There’s no way I’m going to work while my mom is struggling to breathe.” And then suddenly she was struggling harder and so my attention was with her again.
I held her hand and saw how she was helpless too. She was suffering. And all I wanted was for her to stay. Her body would do no more for her on this earth. And I could not make her body heal.
Through tears I said I love you. She tried to say it back and the words would not come because the breath was not there. With compassion I did the most selfless thing I have ever done. I reached out my hand to stroke her hair and told her it was ok. It was ok to let go of this heavy and damaged body.
She found peace in that moment.
I thought my world would go dark.
I thought I wouldn’t be able to function.
I was able to.
I found that in those moments I was bolstered up by hands unseen. I had clarity of thought and was called to action many times by a still, small voice in my head.
I did text my aunt. The nurse came. The help came, with banana bread, thank goodness. The morgue came. The counselor came. My friend came. And that day I watched everything change and I couldn’t stop it. I should’ve been crushed. I shouldn’t have been able to leave my bed for days. I should’ve fallen apart and become bitter and angry- and in some ways I was. But in those moments all I felt was peace and guidance.
Tonight I feel a similar sense of urgent helplessness. Tonight Hurricane Irma is set to hit Florida and head north at a raging speed of destruction. Everyone is powerless to stop it. I feel it’s consistent churning raging in my brain. I live in Washingon state. I can do nothing. Others who have stayed in Florida can do nothing. We are all the same in this moment.
We will all wait tonight. We will all feel our human powerlessness. These are the moments that remind us Who is in charge.
But the most important part of these life events that reminds of Who is in charge are the moments after the destruction and heartache.
See, after my mom passed away I felt God more than I ever had. In my humility I had to stop DOING. There was nothing left to do. I couldn’t feed her healthy things. I couldn’t give her medication. I couldn’t hold her hand. Suddenly all that was left was me… and Him.
After all the hype from the news about what this hurricane could do. After all of the fleeing and worrying. After all of the boards have been nailed in place. After all of the waters have found their resting places. After all of the homes have been ravaged.
All that will be left is truth.
Who will we be in those moments? How will we respond? Where will we find our strength?
When the storm is over- and there will always be a storm- who will we be?
I choose to believe that He, with time, hope, and faith, can help us repair all things.
May God be with our brothers and sisters on the east coast tonight.