But He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
This passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has come to me so many times in my life. As my mother still lays dying, simply awaiting the birth of her Grandchild, Jacob, (more on that later) I am grasping this profound scripture on a whole new level.
Many people have told my Mom throughout her 2 battles with Cancer that she is an inspiration. She would tell you, “I’m just me.” My sweet Mom did not feel like she was stronger, most definitely not more “heroic” then any other person fighting for life — she was simply doing ‘what needed to be done’ to sustain the life she so desperately wanted to still share with us that know and love her. Yet, she is a hero to many–I told her last night that she was mine–for leading a life uncommon and leaving a legacy of love that will continue to be passed on from generation to generation in her honor. In a world fraught with so many problems, tragedies, persecutions, etc…a beautiful, pure, light such as my Mom seems so rare, and thus that more precious.
As for me, I first learned love and truth from my earthly parents – and I thank them for the beautiful example they have set. Not perfect, as no one is except in Heaven, but as good as they could possibly try to be. And as I continue to receive so many beautiful messages for Mom, my family, and myself, about how the love we have given has made even a small difference in someone’s life, well, it is extremely humbling. Mom always believed in treating people the way you wanted to be treated. How drastically would this world change if people actually followed that “Golden Rule”, based on the premise that they actually love themselves in an ordered way and know also how to carry themselves with dignity?
Back to St. Paul, I know more about weakness then strength. I read kind and thoughtful messages from dear friends saying such things like how ‘courageous and strong’ I am, and quite frankly it is nothing at work in me except God that provides those appearances. I know that’s probably what my Mom feels, and definitely what St. Paul was referring to in my opening scripture. You see, as a friend of mine discussed with me the other week, it takes a more strength (to assent from your human will) to surrender then to hold on. It seems the natural thing to try and hold on and control things, but through experience and being disciplined, I have learned that the more I try and hold on, the more turbulent things become. Letting go is the hardest thing to do, and just when it appears that I have seemed to make even the smallest progress in that area, the Lord asks me to go deeper in trust and let go, or detach, from something even greater or harder.
Letting go of my Mom is the hardest thing that has ever been required of me. But seeing how greatly such an angelic woman has suffered, well, it provides the necessary motivation to surrender. My Dad, 3 brothers and their wives, myself and my fiancee, Mike, have all made our peace with Mom. We have shared all the love, tears, laughs, and words needed, and told her to go Home in peace. All that she asks about now–as her earthly light fades, and her heavenly one increases–is about Jacob, who will be the newest addition to the family of my brother, Paul, and his wife, Pilar. I imagine this baby, Jacob, wrestling in Pilar’s womb, with his frequent starts and stops, much like Jacob in Biblical times wrestled all night with an Angel. As many refer to my Mom as an Angel, I pictured the two, Jacob and Mom, in a tug-of-war, with Mom praying for him to arrive quickly, and Jacob resisting leaving the comfort of his mommy’s tummy to enter life as we know it. And poor Pilar is caught up in the mix of it!
Well, God-willing, we will hear of Jacob’s arrival soon. As my Mother laid crying in her Hospice bed the other morning, I asked her what it is that she wanted before she passed away. All she kept echoing was, “I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob, I want to see Jacob,” as the tears streamed down her face. I told her God was listening to her, and we prayed as my brother, Jeff, led us into trying to help usher that child into being born. Well, as of the last we heard at around 9:00 pm EST last night, Pilar was having contractions 15 minutes apart and Paul was pre-loading their bags into the car to be ready. I am up in the middle of the night with much anticipation, as I await the news about Jacob, and wait to see how it will affect my Mother’s delicate state. Her body is shutting down now as the Cancer grows and takes over. I hate Cancer, I hate it. But I love my Mom and God, and know we all will get through this as so many before us have, and many after us will as well, God forbid.
But there will be one more Angel, or I think of her now as standing more with the Saints, Eve Marie Sanchez, in Heaven to intercede for suffering Cancer patients and families. She will be powerful in prayer, and loving as ever – true to always how she has been, and perfected in Love for all eternity.
I am quite certain that I am sharing some very personal thoughts and family moments with you here and now for a purpose greater then I can now understand. I know undoubtedly that there are people who need encouragement and to experience GOD’S LOVE for the first time, or again; and even in her preparations to leave this earth, it is amazing to see how the love in and around my Mother is still doing that. I am in awe, and know that people will still respect my family and the suffering that are also going through even now. I write to process these things as well, and it is something healing for me, and hopefully for my family too.
I will bring this to a close now. As my Mother’s first Grandchild, Alyssa, my niece, holds a special relationship with my Mom. At only 13-years-old, I am very proud of the sweet and faithful young lady she is growing into (good job, Jeff & Annette!). She has shared many beautiful writings with us over these trying months and weeks that have moved many adults to tears. The last one she wrote before they left my parent’s home on Monday is what my Mom said that she’d like to go with her in her casket. Since a public tribute it will become, I felt it honoring to both my Mom and Alyssa to share it here and now, as it says everything much more simply and perfectly then I am able to at this point.
On the front of the paper, Alyssa drew a picture of a lovely Angel, and it says, “My Grandma”. On the back, it says that which my Mom is longing for as well as what I will leave with you for some time now (I will be with some of Mom’s family coming in soon, and attending to some of the many loose ends to wrap up as time allows…):
You will have long hair in Heaven.
You will have the most beautiful dress in Heaven.
You will have nice long legs so you may dance in Heaven.
You will have wings to show you are free and can fly in Heaven.
You will have the brightest smile for when you look down at us – our day will be wonderful!
You will have a halo to show you are an Angel, but you don’t need one to show you are one now.
I love you, Grandma,
Your 1st Granddaughter
UPDATE as of 6:15 AM on 1/18/11: I just got a call from my brother, Paul. They are at the hospital, and Pilar is dialated at a 4 out of 10 right now. She is having pretty severe contractions right now, and they will not be going home – this baby is coming!!! But it will still be awhile. Poor thing, she is exhausted, not having slept in 3 days, and has even gotten sick in her labor. Please pray for God’s will, including strength for Pilar, support for Paul, speed for Jacob, steadfastness for Mom, and peace for us all.
Finally, this beautiful song from Audrey Assad, has also been speaking to my heart.