It’s been ten years today since my mom died. She loved Morning Buns so I bought one yesterday to have for breakfast this morning. They’re big, Todd and I share. You can peel off the layers one at a time. Fannie was begging for some. I told Todd to give her the old stale piece of sticky bun from last weekend. She ate it and loved it. Dogs.
My mother also loved Jesus. She had great faith, she had trusted God all her life, but in the end she struggled to understand why He would take her son, her first born. She had sorrow like sea billows. What is worse than losing a child?
I started to hum the melody of that Hymn with sea billows in it, but couldn’t remember which one it was. Thanks to Google I found it quickly and was soon singing “It is Well”, as I thought of my mom and reflected.
I had remembered the story of Horatio G. Spafford’s great loss which had inspired the words and looked it up to read again. I hadn’t remembered that he was a successful attorney and real estate investor who lost everything in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Or that he had lost his four-year-old son to scarlet fever soon after. I did remember that he sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him on a ship to England, thinking they all needed a vacation, and that He would follow them on the next ship after tying up some business.
I remembered that a storm had come and wrecked and sunk the ship that took the lives of his four daughters and 200 others. I didn’t remember that his wife had survived and when she arrived in England sent word to her husband, “I have made it to England alone. What should I do?”
He was soon on a ship to meet her. The Captain had heard of his great loss and called for him to come to the cockpit as they were passing the very spot his daughters had died. Horatio stood by the rail watching as the ship passed through the rolling waters when the words came to him—
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll—
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to know,
It is well, it is well with my soul…
“God selects the best and notable of His servants for the best and most notable afflictions, for those who have received the most grace from Him are able to endure the most afflictions.” (November 6, Streams in the Desert.)
So I’ve been reading and singing the song and thinking about my mom, and praying God would give me a story to share in her honor.
Mom had reconciled in the end that she was going to go all the way with God, even if she didn’t understand Him. She knew and taught me and I was comforted by the Scripture, “His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts,” as it says in Isaiah 55:8. And she trusted. Peace like a river did “attendeth” her soul. She did have faith to the finish.
My parents had named my brother, Ed, who died on November 8th in 2008, after my mother’s father who she lost in a car accident the year they married. I didn’t understand why God would take Ed or why He would let a woman like Mom, who had loved Him, and lived for Him, suffer as she did with cancer.
Still, she said; “I’m going all the way.”
And she did. After she died, you could almost hear the angels’ wings fluttering as color returned to her cheeks and the corners of her lips lifted to a smile.