I thought I could have leaped from earth to heaven at one spring when I first saw my sins drowned in the Redeemer's blood.
I selected the quote for this digital missive over seven months ago, but I never finished it. It was just after my precious mother made the leap from this life to the next – on Leap Day, which takes the form of February 29 every four years so that our calendars can stay in line with the earth’s revolution around the sun. Her spirit stepped off the earth during those extra 24 hours.
Six months had passed since my mother suffered a fall that seemed impossible to recover from. It was a difficult journey for her and for all of those who loved her. We thought she was near the end on a number of occasions over the fall and winter of 2019. Plans were altered. Celebrations were postponed or canceled as we waited with her for the life she lived in her mortal body to come to an end.
I was away traveling when the real call came that wintry day, letting me know my mom was close to breathing her last breath. So it took 24 hours before I was back in town and able to join my family keeping watch at the nursing home.
In fact, I arrived feeling totally refreshed! I’d been away with Ruby’s team at a retreat house up in northern Minnesota. I had said a proper good-bye before leaving, just in case my mom passed on while I was away.
You could see trains in plain view from the retreat house’s grand living room during the day and the dark of night. The most delightful viewing was at night, when all the trains looked like the Polar Express journeying down the tracks, making mesmerizing clickety-clack sounds as they rolled along. It reminded me of sweet days gone by and storytimes with kids.
Off in the distance, you could also see the big lake called Gitche Gumee – Lake Superior. I was laying eyes on it for the first time since the day we buried my brother not so far away. My heart was stirred with sadness that he was gone. Tears came when I looked at the lake.
But there was joy too. Those few wintry days were filled with sunshine, delicious food, and fresh fruit served with creamy yogurt and topped with Amy’s amazing chocolate granola. We stayed up late and didn’t call our husbands as often as we should have. We dreamed and planned next steps for taking Ruby Buckle out into the world together.
We wrapped up our retreat with a delightful stop at Canal Park in Duluth on the way home. I was treated to lunch at a beautiful Italian restaurant with white-linen-draped tables and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio” dancing through the air while we dined. What wasn’t to love?
Our little group dispersed in the parking lot of our home church at 5 PM. I made my way to the nursing home to join the family members who had been there for the better portion of the previous day.
When I arrived, I kissed my mom and hugged those around her. I was grateful my mom was still alive. I asked if I could lead a prayer. We gathered around her bed, laying hands on her and holding each other too. I prayed, and others joined in before we closed with a song: the “Doxology.” And this was not just a song. I’m pretty sure that it was one of the most beautiful renditions that has ever drifted to the heavens.
I grew up singing. My father had a beautiful voice! My mother, by her own admission, could scarcely carry a tune. But every single one of those present in the room that night were singers. Musicians. Soloists. Choir boys and girls. That night, it was a song sung out of the deep places of sorrow, impending death, and the joy of victory, all stirred into one melodious sound! Tears were falling down upon our cheeks and onto the bedclothes where my mom was snuggled underneath. The presence of the LORD was there!
The following night, just before ten o’clock, my mother’s strong heart finally stopped beating. I was at the head of the bed with her head in my hands, and my sister Patricia was holding her hand. Her spirit left her body as she breathed her last laborious breath, lying peacefully under a crimson red blanket.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
From February 2018 to February 2020, all three of Ruby’s team members lost a mother or father. My friends helped me navigate the journey by sharing their tears, prayers and experiences. The following post is written by Amy about her father’s passing. I’m certain it will bless your heart as it has blessed mine.