June 8, 1993 is a date long past. Twenty-eight years ago. It’s a day I will never forget. Not because of some national historic event or holiday or family birthday.
My mom at age 78 went to heaven on this date. Her heavenly birthday. She was hospitalized for two weeks because of weakness and congestive heart failure. Her condition quickly deteriorated, so quickly that there really wasn’t a clear cut cause of death. Four months earlier she had fallen and fractured her hip. Her heart apparently didn’t recover.
We were all taken by surprise when she went downhill so fast and passed away. I worked at the small hospital where she was a patient. Those last two weeks I kind of just stumbled through the days, trying to hold on to hope that her condition would turn around. Going through the motions.
But she didn’t have that turnaround. I left the hospital after she passed and drove home through a flood of tears. Completely broken-hearted. Sadder than sad. It was an abnormally cool calm day for June. For whatever reason I remember wearing a heavy sweatshirt that day. I pulled into our driveway and slowly made my way from the car to a chair on our back deck. Didn’t have strength to make it into the house just yet. As I sat there with tears flooding, a very gentle, very warm breeze wrapped itself around me. I could feel it moving the tears from my face. It just felt like the presence of God wiping the tears from my eyes and holding me close. I remember feeling at that moment like God was telling me Mom is with Him, all is well. Even now, 28 years later, I remember exactly what it felt like.
In the days that followed I could make it through the daylight hours pretty well but once the sun went down it was like a heavy cloud of sadness would just settle on me. Often I would find myself going out into my yard and looking upward into the skies, at the stars and moon, just staring at the sky with tears flooding, missing my mom, longing for heaven. Just wondering…. how far away….
A few months ago I read the following excerpt from a devotional book. The scripture was Acts 7:55: “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,” words of Stephen as he was being stoned to death. The author continues: “Stephen, the very first martyr; heaven was opened up to him and he saw Jesus at the right hand of God, on his behalf. What I want you to understand is that Heaven is right there. We look up at the sky at night and the expanse of stars. He is literally just an open window away from us, sitting on His throne. His presence is in us and on us. God upon His throne is just that near. We just can’t quite see it yet.”
God….is just that near.
Sometimes He feels so far away, especially when we’re in the midst of deep grief and sadness. But ….He is so very near. We are literally surrounded. “just an open window away from us”. He’s in the warmth of a gentle breeze. And the silent beauty of a starry sky. And the graceful flight of a beautiful butterfly. And the sweet smile of a baby. All of creation surrounds us with his undeniable presence. Right there. With us always.
I leave you with this quote that I treasure from Oswald Chambers:
“There will come one day a personal and direct touch from God when every tear and perplexity, every oppression and distress, every suffering and pain, every wrong and injustice will have a complete and ample and overwhelming explanation.”
Until then…. keep looking up. Heaven is right there.
Rev 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes… no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
***I originally wrote this four years ago. But I wanted to update it and repost it. One year ago today my mother-in-law passed. She was in my life for more years than my own mother was. I miss her. 💔 Every member of her family misses her. Save us a place, Lena.