Light and Flowers
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Continuation from the previous post- Waves of Grief…
After 24 hours of aggressive treatment, my Mom does not respond. In fact, the physician tells my brother that her kidneys are starting to fail. They are taking her off the BiPAP machine and life-saving medications and switching to palliative care. This is to happen late Thursday afternoon. We don’t know how long she will be with us. Now, the physician allows all family to visit. It is very sad that it came to this for us to have the authorization to be with my sweet Mom. The four of us race to the hospital. There is a great sense of urgency, trepidation, and sadness in the air. We enter the hospital which seems more like a prison with guards, security, large signs, and interview questions. Finally, we are allowed to proceed to the ICU. Only two visitors at a time are allowed to visit, so my daughter and I head into the room first. She is leaving for college the next day and this will most likely be the last time she sees her beloved Grandma – the woman she adores, shares many traits, and has had many adventures with. We walk into the room and we go next to my Mom’s bedside. I am relieved to see all the equipment, machines, and tubes off of her. She is laying in the bed with her eyes closed. I say, “Hi Mom, I love you so much.” She says, “Hi Bonnie, I love you so much.” Her eyes never open but her voice is clear and soft. I look at my daughter in amazement and she speaks to her too. They express their love for each other. My daughter talks about going back to school and other things that they would normally talk about. It is surreal. I am in disbelief as she is more clear now than a few days ago when she was on the regular floor and supposedly doing better. My brother and his wife arrive. His wife says, “Hi Mom.” My Mom immediately says, “Hi Sonia, how are you?” We all look at each other in amazement and wonder what is happening, is she getting better? We start to hope.
Unfortunately, the doctors and the nurses tell us that this is just a momentary improvement, she is in the process of dying. We have at most a few days. It is obvious that her sudden and unexpected clarity is a tremendous gift from God. The next time my husband and I visit, my Mom and I are able to talk to each other quite a bit and she hears me and understands. In fact, at one point she smiles at me, opens her eyes, and looks right at me, but her eyes do not look the same vibrant green and they are not centered. I ask her if she sees me and she says, “no.” I am sad, but still grateful she can hear me and she is able to talk, though it requires quite a bit of effort. I ask her what she sees and she says, “Light and Flowers.” We hold hands all day, I kiss her and we share all the happenings in our lives like we normally do. She holds my hand with a fairly strong grip and says, “It is so good you are here, it is just a shame I am in this state.” I tell her that we are so grateful to be with her, that we love her so much, her family and friends love her so much, and God loves her so much. We leave and my brothers take turns being with her for the rest of the day.
The following day, she is not as alert. Her arms are shaking when we enter the room. I think she may be cold, but she is not. She greets me and says, “I love you.” My angel Mom then says that she needs to pray. I ask her if she wants us to pray with her and she says, “yes.” The three of us pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and I can see my Mom’s lips moving with the prayers though little sound is heard. She seems more relaxed and her arms have stopped shaking when we finish. We talk a little more, though it is very difficult for her. She then tells me she needs to pray, so we pray the Rosary together. As we conclude, she is completely serene and she has started to sleep. I am grateful that she looks peaceful.
The next morning I received word that my Mom had passed. The Geriatric Nurse Specialist calls me and says that she passed exactly how we left her Sunday afternoon. She was never in pain, never agitated, and never required oxygen. I can imagine Jesus, so lovingly and tenderly holding her to himself and carrying her home. I can imagine Him saying, Welcome to Paradise, my good and faithful servant, you have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith.
The only thing I really want from my Mom’s apartment is a little statue of a young girl praying in front of a Crucifix. My Mom had this on her dresser and it is made in Hungary, the place of the first 21 years of her life. I love it because it reminds me of my sweet Mom. She was so petite and so childlike in her complete trust, devotion, and love of the Lord as well as her joyful spirit. I come downstairs and am struck by how the light is illuminating the Crucifix and the flowers but the little girl is in the shadows. This is so appropriate because my humble Mom never wanted to be in the spotlight. It reminds me of what she said, that she saw, “Light and Flowers.” The Holy Spirit guides me to these verses from the Bible and Saint Gaspar:
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
From St. Gaspar del Bufalo:
“In the garden of the Church, Mary gathers three flowers and places them into your hands: the white lily, the red rose, the pale violet.
The lily is the symbol of purity of conscience of life.
The rose represents that burning love which purifies, perfects and elevates the heart to God This love is then seen in great charity to one’s neighbor.
The violet is the emblem of true humility and self-sacrifice.
The picture of the lily draws you away from the world. The image of the rose unites you with the heart of Jesus. Finally, the violet makes you partakers of the fruits of the Cross of Jesus.
May the most holy Virgin who presents you with these flowers, find them still in your hands in your last agony as a pledge for entrance into the home to which only the pure lovers of Jesus Crucified are admitted.”
After reading these verses and this quote, I am filled with joy, awe, and peace in the Lord. I believe that my angel Mom is with the Light of Christ and I know that she had in her hands the pure lily, the rose of burning love, and the humble violet. She was so pure, humble. and radiant with the love of the Lord. That love could not be contained but flowed to all in her path. I pray that I will be able to do the same.
Dear Friends in Christ, thank you for being with me and praying for me and my family in this valley of tears. We are extremely grateful to God for you. Be assured of my prayers for you!
The Sisters Servants of Jesus gave me the most beautiful poem/prayer, called “Togetherness” that has given me great comfort. Not many people know of it and so I am sharing it here. For those of you grieving the loss of a loved one, I pray that it will bring you consolation. https://www.stalexisparish.org/37
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