The following is a reflection I wrote for the Lenten Devotional our church publishes each year. As we approach the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death, I thought it fitting to share on this blog.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25 or Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
The above verse took on new meaning for me during Holy Week of 2009 while my mother was dying. The words of Jesus as he hung on the cross were never more striking.
Good Friday doesn’t fall on the same date every year. But since 2009, I have looked at Good Friday quite differently. My mother died on Good Friday, April 10, 2009. It was a cataclysmic event for me. We hadn’t had a major death in our family for decades. My father died more than 50 years ago and we had lost grandparents, uncles and aunts–but never anyone this close in many years.
Though it has been four years since her death, the haunting memory of that scene in the hospital room is as vivid as if it were today. I wasn’t prepared for the breakdown I had when I saw the lifeless body of my mother lying in the hospital bed at Columbus Riverside Hospital. The strength that had sustained me during the ordeal of the preceding months, as we watched her decline, abandoned me at that moment and I cried like a baby. Though I had told myself I had no regrets, I longed desperately to talk to her one more time. I touched her cheeks and embraced her innocent-looking face as the tears gushed and my heart broke. The thought of her not being with us anymore was just too much to take. It is a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever experience ever again or want to.
But as I think back to that day, my sense of loss has been filled with hope. Each Good Friday, we are drawn to the scene of Mary watching her son hanging on the cross, his life slipping away. Anyone who has watched a loved one die can relate to her grief. But what Mary didn’t know at the time was that in a matter of three days that grief would be replaced by the inexpressible joy of the Resurrection and the world would be endowed with the gift of salvation for all who believe in God’s son.
Because of that first Good Friday, we can now gather at the foot of the cross each subsequent Good Friday, not to grieve, but to strengthen and renew our faith. It was that cruel death that proved God’s undying love for us. And for that we say, “Thanks be to God!”
Rev. Abraham D. Allende