Dear Mom – a throwback

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday. If you had been alive today you would have turned 71. Unfortunately you chose to leave us much too early and there is literally nothing left of you than the memories in my heart. Yeah… I get sentimental and I remember how you disliked sentimental while you yourself was one of the most sentimental women I have ever known! Go figure…

So, how about you grab a beer – or was it bloody Mary you enjoyed the most? and I’ll grab something non-alcoholic  – and we can go sit down somewhere you loved; Like Stromstad in Norway? Okay… let’s go…

Honestly mom, your death was no fun and I have blogged about it earlier “How my mom passed away”, but My Jesus told me to leave the past in the past. I did. But memories don’t leave anyone and this birthday letter isn’t about your death, mom. It’s about your life.

You were conceived in love and yet born in grief and bitterness. Your mom and dad were married and in love. Then your dad decided to choose side and fought with the German army during WWII. He was reported dead before you were born and you never met him. I have always known that it left a huge scar in your heart. I know the bullying in the many different schools you went to always ended up on the same issue: Traitor-bitch.It wasn’t your fault.

You grew up anyway as we all do. As a young girl and while getting en education in flower arranging, you fell in love and got pregnant. You were supposed to get married but your fiancé died in a car crash and… – mom, did you not dare to go home to get help? I know, your mom had remarried and had 3 kids. Her husband probably wouldn’t be of much help. Abortion wasn’t an option for you – besides, I know you wanted the child. You took off to Iceland as many other girls did who had gotten in trouble, to have your baby. Were you pushed down a flight of stairs or did you trip? I don’t know, but the story I heard was that you lost the baby. Mom, was that really what happened or did you hide some facts?

What happened next is kind of where my story begins too; When you returned from Iceland, you moved away from your family to the other side of Denmark, worked in a hospital and a few years on you met my dad. You got married in your last trimester and then came my brother. 6 years later I happened.

I remember you mom. I remember the smile in your eyes and your humor. Your laughter, your love and your… melancholic attitude. I hated that. For many years I battled your self-pity which you tried to drown in wine. It doesn’t work!

I remember the day when you loudly and proudly declared you had told a family member off. She had asked you straight out to please accept Jesus into your heart. You told her no! I remember I felt weak and strange when you said that. I wasn’t aware that Jesus was already seeking me, pursuing me and calling me to Himself. In retrospect I get it. Mom, I really don’t want to think about where you are now. So let’s just enjoy the view to the fjord of Stromstad.

How I wish I could meet you again mom. So I could whisper to you that I love you and I forgive you and I miss you. I understand most of this letter seems negative. You had many positive sides and I so wish… that I could remember more of those. But I remember you doing your best to love me. I appreciate that. The last 2 years of your life were the best ones because you and I got a relationship – because you stopped drinking. You listened and heard me. You gave great advice and I miss those talks we shared. I know you would have loved my daughter and probably spoiled her rotten. If you could see me now mom, would you be proud of me? I accepted Jesus, I say no to drinking, I struggle a lot mom but I try to follow God’s way. Non of these things were things that counted for much in your mind. I remember that and it saddens me. I do know for sure though, that you would love me… and I’m happy knowing that Jesus loves me too.

I know your life didn’t get off to a great start. I know how it ended. But what happened in between was your life journey. As my life is my life journey.

I’ll always be your daughter. Happy Birthday mom.

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Leave the past in the past – Philippians 3:13-16

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There are 3 things God is working out in my life right now: Worship, relationship within His body and the death of my mother.

My mother was a “suburb alcoholic”. She had a full time job and was a full time wife and mom and cook and maid… and she never had an easy life. She wasn’t a drunk hanging out on the sidewalks or sitting on park benches with a bottle of something. She was a hardworking woman who enjoyed alcohol a bit too much. She had a choice. During my childhood I don’t remember her being particularly nasty or drunk, but during my teens I do remember how viciously evil she could become in her words especially when alcohol went in and took over. She couldn’t control her drinking and it became her death.

On the night she died, the ambulance came around 4 pm after she had vomited blood and she fell to the floor drifting in and out of unconsciousness. She was taken to the emergency room and received blood… But the doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding. After several hours of trying to save her life, she was taken to the ICU, where a kind nurse was wiping away her blood as it came from mouth, nose, ear – every hole in her body. They put her in a respirator and on sleep inducing painkiller.

I got a shock when I saw her. She didn’t look awful, but with 7 needles in her hand I couldn’t hold it. So I pushed my hand underneath hers. I knew that her life would end. They woke her up so we could say our goodbye’s… I told her I loved her. She couldn’t answer me because of all the tubes, but her eyes spoke and I’m grateful for that moment. After a bit they put her back to sleep and her blood slowly ran out of her body. I was wiping it away as gently as I could. The life ran out of her and I was wiping it up. My brother asked the doctor if it was cirrhosis of the liver and he nodded.

The doctors told us that it would be a miracle if she made it through the night. They put words on it. I remember that sinking feeling and I asked my dad “what happens if she does make it through the night?” – and his answer was “then it will be a miracle if she makes it through tomorrow”. She didn’t make it through the night. About 3 hours later, at 1 am, she drew her last breath and the machine went silent. But those 3 hours lasted… for what seemed like a lifetime. Watching someone – a loved one – bleed to death is tough. You know what is coming so you want to hang on. Yet, you know what is coming so you want it to be over with fast.

After her death my life seemed to stop and I couldn’t understand how the world could continue. It took some time, but I eventually came to terms with my mom’s death. I forgave her for choosing continually to drink even when the doctors had told her to stop (yes, she knew, but she had kept it quiet). We learn to live without our loved ones and it is now 11 years ago and some months.

My mom was not a believer. At the time, I was not a believer either. I so wish I had been though! If I had just had my Jesus during that time, I would have had something to hang on to and trust. A never ending strength and love… But I didn’t. In my family there is a tendency on my moms side to depression. I am not sure how far back it goes, but I know that my mom’s dad had it (who died very young somewhere in Berlin during WWII), my mom had it and turned to alcohol and her brother had it and turned to a gun ending up shooting himself (suicide). I have it too. But I will be forever grateful that Jesus came and picked me up and though I may have struggles, I will never need alcohol or a gun or anything else besides Jesus.

But recently God has brought my mom up again and I knew there was something I had to deal with but I didn’t know what. After all, it’s 11 years ago and I am okay with my mom being gone. But – when a friend shared how God was working the grief of loosing one of her parents out in her – I found myself sharing my moms death with her. Which is something I rarely do. Yes, she’s dead. Yes, she was an alcoholic. Yes, we learn to live without our parents. But… I suddenly realized that I had not come to terms with the way she died. The blood, the tubes, the needles in her hand. I have had some weeping days and this time I am allowing myself to cry. When God shows you that there is still pain in your heart, He wants to heal it. So I am pouring out my pain to Him.

I wanted to share with all of you who actually read this blog, where God had me open my Bible this morning and the words jumped right at me. I know Paul is not talking directly about dealing with grief and loss and trauma, but still;

Philippians 3:13, 15-16 (GNT)
13 … the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.  –  15 All of us who are spiritually mature should have this same attitude. But if some of you have a different attitude, God will make this clear to you. 16 However that may be, let us go forward according to the same rules we have followed until now.

And God spoke; “leave the past in the past”.

I definitely have something I need to deal with and then leave it at His feet.