No really, in about 20 hours my journey from Oregon -> San Francisco, from San Francisco -> Hawaii begins, embarking on a much needed 12 days get away with family, and no work. Ok who am I kidding, I’m sure work will follow. But I am off to paradise!
My thoughts, however, linger on my dear mother, who passed from this life January 20th, 2017. I believe she is in the real paradise, and some of her last words to me were, ‘Ralph, you said I could go home.’ And she did!
As a Christian, we hear a lot about paradise. That mystical place where you’ll never thirst or hunger again, where the common cold, flu or dreaded cancer can never affect you again. A place where anger and malice are stripped away forever, to be replaced by joy and love.
As a human, visiting a place like the lush coastlines of a beautiful Hawaiian island will make you believe this is heaven on earth. Tasting fresh Dragon Fruit, Hawaiian Pineapple, Oranges you pick from the tree yourself, Bananas hanging from branches on the roadside, it all will make you believe you’ve discovered the Garden of Eden.
And yet, for all the awe and wonder we have for Heaven, don’t we still cling to this human life with desperate ferocity? In the face of death, even with the belief that you’ll enter pearly gates of splendor, a person will cling to life with everything their mortal power allows them.
As my mother slipped into the stage of dying, mostly comatose, without the strength to raise her arms, the most she could accomplish, once or twice a day was to open her eyes and mumble a couple words. There were a couple times where her mind would overcome her physical limitation and she would call out, or say things with purpose and strength before slipping back.
Watching her slip was the most heartbreaking time of my life and every recounting replays the pain, the choking in my throat, the sting of memories tears, the selfish struggle of loss.
But one day, it was a Monday, having been comatose for four days, she suddenly popped up with energy. Her strong eyes looked at me, challenging death itself. We had been using a small sponge to put liquid in her cheeks, as well as morphine, but suddenly, she wanted juice, and as she pulled liquid from the straw she declared she was going to get better, for her kids. Yesterday she couldn’t open her mouth, but now she is using a straw!
Oh, how our hopes rallied, mingled with the fear that it wasn’t going to last. We had prayed, we had hoped, we hadn’t given up but we had resigned that it was the end. Her lungs were too far gone to support life. It would take the God of creation to recreate her lungs now.
But after Monday was over, my mother, Bobbie had four days left. She slipped back into comatose, her liver and body were shutting down. Friday night, with family and friends close by, she breathed her last and said Goodbye. I’m off to Paradise.
It makes me wonder, why do we cling so desperately to this life? I can tell you now, after watching my mother move on, I would give one last Monday too, to have just one more day with those I love. Perhaps it is because Paradise is really just pure love.