Part 4: Heavenly Rest
Eights day of hospitalization and Mom was unceremoniously moved home. I visited late that afternoon and illogically assumed the cancer had disappeared as I was no longer looking at a hospital patient. Once the paper thin hospital gown, the IVs, the heart rate monitors and all things medical were stripped away, my mother was just Mom. My Mom.
By Saturday, I was feeling very worn down with the exhaustive hospital visit schedule combined with a chest cold that was unrelenting. There was concern that Mom could easily pick up my cold with her low immune system, so it was requested that I wear a face mask and gloves in the same room together. It was torturous not to touch her, to hug her, to comfort her with my hands and my kisses. Anger was starting to dwell within me and my fury was targeted towards anyone in the way of my being with Mom — the ballet teacher who infected me with her bronchial germs, the doctor who refused to prescribe me antibiotics, my body for weakening each day.
I brought the book Fates and Furies to each visit, expecting to catch a few pages while Mom rested. Yet why would she close her eyes, when the people she loved most were by her side? That book, all 400 pages, was lugged to each visit. Even after Mom passed, it took me months to finish the book, painfully turning each page — will never know if my unfavorable review of this book was due to the unlikeable characters or what those 400 pages had witnessed with me.
Mostly, our time together was still. The leaves outside her bedroom window were full of fall colors. The framed photos that decorated the room captured a life well loved and enjoyed. The headboard, a crutch, was the same one that we leaned against as children when snuggling in with Mom after a bad dream.
The stillness allowed our thoughts to drift towards both silent and out loud prayer. The favorite request, and the one that washed a peace over Mom’s face, was from the Christian Science hymnal. With my face mask on, I would read Mother’s Evening Prayer, my voice breaking to Mary Baker Eddy’s powerful lyrics.
This hymn is now so present in my life. After Mom passed, I learned the chords on the piano as my fingers slowly found the familiar notes. It was the song that I read to her at 7:50am on October 24th, after her soul had departed but her body was still present. It was the song that I presented at her private memorial service amongst a small group of family.
And when I was full of anger and frustration, months after she was gone, I prayed in church for a sign from Mom — any sign — to test and see if she was still with me, on her heavenly perch. And after that silent prayer, the first hymn to be played was Mother’s Evening Prayer. She is here.
Beneath the shadow of his mighty wing; In that sweet secret of the narrow way, Seeking and finding, with the angels sing: Lo, I am with you alway, watch and pray. No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain; No night drops down upon the troubled breast, When heaven's after smile earth's teardrops gain, And mother finds her home and heavenly rest. - Mary Baker Eddy