Walking Together in Faith

"It is finished"

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 (NIV)

This verse kept resonating with me during Holy Week while my mother was dying. The words of Jesus as he hung on the cross were never more meaningful.

Mom died on Good Friday shortly before 9 p.m.

Earlier in the day, sometime after noon, I received a call from my sister that the hospice nurse had called and said that Mom was in “terminal anxiety” and that we should gather the family because it could be hours or maybe a day. I was committed to leading a Good Friday worship service that evening at 7:30 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church. Even though I agonized about it, I decided to go ahead and lead the worship.

My wife and I left immediately after the end of the worship at around 8:45 p.m. for the two-hour drive to Columbus. Shortly after nine p.m. I received another call, this one from my niece, that Mom was gone. Fortunately, the hospital said that they would wait until I arrived and would allow me time with the body before the funeral home would be notified.

I wasn’t prepared for the breakdown I had when I saw the lifeless body of my mother lying in the hospital bed at Riverside Hospital. The strength that had sustained me during this ordeal 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.

We have not had a major loss in our family for decades. My father died more than 50 years ago and we’ve lost grandparents, uncles and aunts–but never anyone this close in many years. It has been ten days since her death, but the haunting memory of that scene in the hospital room is as vivid as if it were today.

Wednesday of Holy Week

“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.”

John 11:25

This blog is written in honor, and soon to be in memory, of my mother, Luz María Allende, who is in hospice care at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. My family has been struggling with the acceptance of her impending death. I feel I am entering into it with some measure of calmness because of my faith. I believe in the resurrection, as we confess weekly in worship, but that doesn’t fill the void that I’m sure I will feel once she is gone.

Today is Wednesday. I have services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I begged off Easter Vigil, which is being done jointly with three other congregations, so that I could spend Saturday at the hospital. We don’t know how much time we have and I feel I need to be there with her. Even though she can’t talk and is asleep more often than she’s awake, she is conscious of the people around her. I only pray that I don’t receive one of those dreaded telephone calls late at night that can only mean one thing.
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