More than eight months after I lost my mom, I am grateful I only have two big regrets. The first, not bringing her home to us sooner. The second, leaving two of her rings unprotected at her assisted living facility. She still wore her wedding and anniversary bands, but kept the others in a Tiffany-style box in her bedside table. One featured a ruby surrounded by diamonds; the other, a cluster of diamonds. The stones were small, but each a dazzling reminder of the love with which they were given and received. Years later, both were cold-heartedly stolen.
Dad, who died in 2002, was a gregarious man who came to America from Norway with very little. He worked hard and loved showering Mom with gifts, like those rings. Mom, born Sigrun Håheim, also came from Norway. She was a vibrant spirit, bursting with love for God, people, and life.
For years, Mom suffered from peripheral neuropathy, but her health started declining in earnest in early 2019 when she was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Her condition deteriorated further throughout the year. In December, doctors told us she had a spot on her pancreas, Atrial Fibrillation, and a urinary tract infection (UTI). What struck me most wasn’t the dire diagnoses, but her steadfast faith in the midst of them. “I just long to see Jesus,” she said. “To touch His face.” She was ready to go, but had more to endure.
When COVID hit in March, senior living facilities locked down, isolating millions of elderly men and women, including my mom. In April, I had to wish her a happy 86th birthday through a plexiglass screen. In May, she was admitted to hospice and I was granted special visiting privileges. We were reunited! I cherished the hours we spent watching Church services on YouTube, reading the Bible, and just being together.
Last June, my siblings, Heidi and Larry, came to Huntsville for what would be a farewell visit. We stayed together in our house. Mom, who barely spoke in preceding weeks, poured her heart out, declaring her unconditional love and trying to right any wrongs.
I continued to marvel at her faith. She later shared that she went to bed every night wondering when she’d wake up in her other room, the one Jesus said our Father was preparing for her (John 14: 2-3).
By August, she was extremely weak and frail. We finally brought her home. Two weeks later, on August 28, her breathing changed. I jumped to her side and held her hand, recognizing the guppy-like breaths that indicate end-of-life.
After initially bursting into tears, I pulled myself together. “Mom,” I laughed, “You don’t want your last memory down here to be of me bawling my eyes out.” I flipped the switch, gave her my best smile, and told her how much we loved her. She could go; we’d be okay.
When she slipped away, I could almost see her spirit rising to follow Jesus to her heavenly home. But her earthly absence crushed me. Suddenly, I was the one gasping for air.
The next morning I stepped outside and a female cardinal flew by, hovering near Mom’s window. I smiled, temporarily comforted by the sign. Of course, waves of grief still come and go. Recently, I was driving and missed her terribly. Tears streaming down my face, I cried, “Mom, please tell me it’s real. That you’re in heaven and everything we believe is true.” Moments later, I saw a woman holding a sign that said, “Jesus is coming soon.”
Signs like these assure me that Mom is still here, even though she’s also “there,” in that highly-anticipated other room. As we honor mothers this month, I’ll be sure to give mine the shout-out she deserves. I’m certain she’ll hear me, and respond. I can’t wait to see the sign she sends next.
I left this note on your Linkedin Post for a greater audience to share our grief and wonderment of the afterlife.
Karen – We have the loss of our moms last year and I lost my second sister this year. You mention “many signs.” For years, I have watched for those “pennies from heaven” as my family angels are letting me know they are watching over me, and now have two banks full. It seems that I find pennies (or coins) weekly. This week, my wife found a quarter in a dirt driveway. She has the feeling that her dad is letting her know he is here with her. Whenever I attend a funeral, I make a point of putting a penny in the casket and tell the family to watch for its return from heaven. Yes, there are many signs from our loved ones Your mom is still with you always.
Love this! And you!
And I love you!
“Mom’s are so special,” is an understatement. They give us life, they nurture us, they teach us little things and big things. Most of all as mom’s of faith, they teach us about Jesus. I am so thankful I still have my mom. She is sick right now and has been pretty ill with a nerve disease the doctors can’t do anything else for. I am treasuring the time I have left with her. It has to be short little visits because she wears out so easy, but treasured time none the less. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your love for your mom, her love for you, and her love for the Lord. God bless you this Mother’s Day.❤️
Bless you, too. Thank you!
He knows what we need and when we need it. It’s so hard to say goodbye to those we love but we must remember there is such a thin veil between this world and the eternal one. And soon, we shall be where they are!
Thank you… Yes. So hard to say goodbye. Thank you!