THE COLLATERAL BEAUTY I FOUND WHILE LOSING MY MOTHER

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A couple of years ago I went to see a movie starring Will Smith called Collateral Beauty. The reviews were not good but the cast was incredible, so I took my chances. Contrary to the critics, I found Collateral Beauty to be a thought-provoking, well-written, and a well-acted piece of work. This blog is not about the movie but rather about a brief scene from the movie that I have given much pause to as it relates to the passing of my mother.

This thought-provoking scene featured an older woman who sits down next to a young mother whose daughter is dying and she gives a strange piece of advice that could even be perceived as insensitive or cruel:COLLATERAL BEAUTY 2

Brigitte: [sitting in hospital hallway] Are you losing somebody?

Madeline: I’m sorry?

Brigitte: Who are you losing?

Madeline: [breath trembling] Um, my daughter.

Brigitte: Just make sure you notice the collateral beauty.

As my mother was transitioning into her place of rest (Heaven), there were memorable and life-changing moments that I now understand to be the Collateral Beauty.

First ~ She was a well-loved woman

My mother only remained in Hospice Care at home for 5 days before her passing and during that time more than a hundred people made their way to our home for the chance to say goodbye, thank you, and I love you. I watched each of them, which included children, women, and men who patiently waited their turn.

Then ~ My friends gathered around me

I am blessed with wonderful friends. I saw how much my friends cared for me as my mother my dying. It was as if they scheduled their days to make sure I was cared for by bringing food, cleaning, entertaining the folk who flowed from the house until the final moments.

Also ~ My Best Friend’s love for me

My Best Friend is a midwife who was living about 5 hours from me. She had worked two very long shifts for consecutive days. She called me to ask basically if my mother was still with us. When I said yes, she got in the car and drove to me. She arrived after 10 pm, which would be the last night of her life. She sat with me and counting each breath with me until we got to 1 breathe every 90 seconds for 3 hours. Then when my mother passed she prepared her body after we left the room so that she appeared to be resting comfortably and not forever resting.

Another Thing ~ I found strength and faith that I did not know I had

There is nothing that can prepare you to say goodbye to a parent-Nothing. My mother passed on a Tuesday morning but the last time I heard her speak was Saturday afternoon. As her guest were coming to sit with her, kiss her, thank her, and just find out a way to let her go, she called my name. I was not in the room but as her caretaker, I had superhero hearing attuned to only her sounds. I went to her and whispered in her ear, I will not leave you until you take God’s hand, Mommy.

After 5 days of her fighting to breathe, on the fifth day, I said, “Thank you, Mommy, thank you! Well done. We are going to be ok. You can go and rest now. You are going to be able to breathe soon and you are going to get out of that wheelchair and walk. Say, hello to everyone Mommy. I will see you again. I love you.”

The child in me screamed, “Please don’t leave me, PLEASE!” My parents raised me to have faith and to trust God, and I did and I do. It was that faith that gave me the strength to love my mother unselfishly until her last breath.

Finally ~ Love Never Dies

While my mother is no longer physically here with us, there has not been one day that has gone by that I have not felt her love. There have been special moments over the last six years that I have heard her voice, felt her presence, and heard her praying for my brothers and me.

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Through the tears and during “The Missing,” I have become acutely aware of the Collateral Beauty found in Goodbye. Goodbye comes with its own peculiar gifts and a joy, I dare say. The beauty of it all is having had the experience of a mother, wonderful and giving, who loved me until and through her dying breath.  Rest in Heaven Mommy (March 13, 1945 – January 17, 2012)

Rena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW WE VOTE COULD SAVE LIVES!!!!

GUN VIOLENCE

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So What About a Broken Heart?

BROKEN HEART 2We have all experienced a “Broken Heart” and we know its pain. But why so much pain? Why is it so hard for us to move on from a Love Relationship?  How do we move through the process of recovery and help ourselves heal?  I was listening to TED the other day and I heard this great answer to the many questions surrounding the basics of Heartbreak and how we might mend it.

Perhaps these pointers will help you put your heart together again or at least be ready for next possible Broken Heart.

A CRISIS OF FAITH: WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE

 

Have you ever experienced something or witnessed someone else who was experiencing great sorrow and wonder, where is God? After you have prayed and been patient, you know when you have done everything a “Person of Faith” should do, and yet the worst of outcomes becomes the reality?

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Where is God? Is God Real?

This is called a Crisis of Faith. I consider myself a person of faith, a Christian to be precise. I am clergy and hold a doctorate in Theology and Yet, I have experienced doubt and questioned why I even bother with God.  I have believed in God, through Jesus, for what seems like all of my life. Even still there was once a time when I wondered where God was or even if God is…

BABIES IN HEAVEN

I felt like I was suffocating. I was angry. I was in such emotional and spiritual pain, I can swear to you that it seem to manifest itself in the form of physical pain; I hurt everywhere. I got into my car thinking that a ride alone would calm my nerves and my doubts. Thunder and lightning was the backdrop for this self-soothing endeavor. “God, again, AGAIN, AGAIN!!!!” I screamed out loud, I was pissed!!! How many times would I have to satisfy myself with the belief that my unborn babies were with God? She/he already had 3 of them, why couldn’t God just let me have the two I was carrying, why?!!!!

“What do you want from me? Do you believe I would love them more, are you jealous?” I CRISIS OF FAITH INSERTyelled to the heavens. God did not answer. At least not in the way we see on television.

 

 

After taking a week off, I was a High School English teacher, I returned right before Christmas break. It was all that I could do to keep it together. My Homeroom class greeted me with gifts and a presentation. One of them had written a beautiful poem about me as Mother. They went on to say how I was like their school mother. They said that they trusted me and loved me, and that they were sure my babies were with God. At this point I could only wipe my tears as each took their turn at a hug.

JESUS COMFORTINGAs the days and the weeks went by and as I learned that my husband was not open to adoption, therefore if I were to be his wife I would be stuck with “Empty Arms” in the midst of such sorrow, I began to experience something. I was deeply saddened, depressed, and angry with my husband, God, my body…Life! I began to experience comfort, even peace.

It is hard to articulate, hard, but I want to tell you that it was God. Do not get me wrong, God did not take me out of my suffering-My grief. It was as if God set down on the floor beside and cried with me. I felt warmth cover me. As I rocked myself to sleep and I cried my pillow wet, God was holding me. God sent people, children, family, friends, to minister to me. Everyday I got better, stronger; I became more myself but better.

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE~

It was in this particular place that I learned it is best that we not evaluate God in midst of our storms. The emptiness and pain I experienced felt insurmountable. What I am telling you is that I could not have survived whole without the LOVE that seem to sit with me in my pain. Even though God did not make it stop, God was there; I felt God’s presences. I learned then and many times since and yes, even before (When I allow myself to remember) that experience that God may not remove the pain but God does not leave us alone in it-That is one of the promises of God. ­­­­

GOD CARES

I also learned God can handle my doubt, my anger, and any question that I ask. If you are wondering, I am still a woman of faith – I believe. Crisis has been averted and am sure God is real because I experienced God in my valley and desert places.

By the way, I never became a biological mother but there was a young man of 14 who was abandoned by his family in every way that mattered. My former husband and myself looked out for him. He would eventually come to live with us and then me alone. He calls me Mom today.

Hold on Beloved –

Rena