Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Know Where's Susan's Going to Be...

Nearly sixteen years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl. This was both precious and poignant, because this time I was giving birth without my mother. When I delivered our first child, my mom (then courageously battling breast cancer) was right there in the delivery room, feeding me ice chips, placing cool rags on my forehead, and literally breathing with me through the contractions. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through another baby now that she was gone.

But this birth had been almost easy -- our little princess seemed to pop out after just two pushes! It was almost as if someone had swooped down from heaven and placed her in my arms. We called our families to spread the news. Then they whisked her off to the nursery and wheeled me into the recovery room for a long winter’s nap.

As I was just waking up, still groggy, I remember hearing the hospital room door squeak open. I slowly turned to see who it was, and there stood my Dad! I have no idea how he managed to get there so fast, how many people he had to pay off at the airport to get him on the first flight out, but at a time when I was missing Mom and feeling very much alone, to have my Dad just magically appear at the hospital was about my favorite surprise ever. And I’ll never forget his first sentence: He said, “I knew where Susan (my mom) was going to be this morning, and I wanted to be here too.” As soon as he said that, I had no doubt that she was. I knew she had been there easing my labor and delivery, but this time from the other side of the veil.

* * * * *

I came to understand my dad's sentence a little more deeply last week. My adorable Aunt Elen, full of unstoppable energy and always warm and wonderful, finally passed away. I was stunned. I honestly didn’t think the cancer would beat her. I saw her just a few weeks earlier, and she looked amazing! Gorgeous white hair, periwinkle jacket, sparkling eyes. She had battled breast cancer three separate times over the past 25 years.

She is the one who, having recently survived breast cancer herself, knew just what to do when my mom was diagnosed. She took her wig-shopping, prosthesis shopping, and offered tons of experienced advice. She came over and cleaned her house, made up a month’s worth of meals and stocked her freezer, was a bonafide angel.

So when I got word that her funeral was Thursday, I immediately started making arrangements to be there. It was at the worst possible time (what death is ever convenient?) —right in the middle of one of my watercolor classes. It took me hours to find, bribe, train and prep a substitute. But I felt this incredible pull — I just knew I had to be there!

I loved every minute of the funeral from the moment I walked in the door. It was wonderful seeing cousins, uncles, aunts and old friends I hadn’t seen for years and years. Familiar faces, long lost and beloved. The room where the family gathered was filled to overflowing with affection and deep respect.

Each one of her children spoke -- each painted a different aspect of her character, like brushstrokes on a painting, until the portrait felt complete. Each spoke with faith, courage, and powerful testimony. Having lost my own mother nearly 19 years ago, I could identify with the feeling of stepping up to that microphone and wanting -- needing -- to share three salient points: That Mother was an amazing and courageous saint. That sensing her cross the veil to the other side was a sacred experience. And that we will see her again.

As I drank in their words, I nodded. I knew. The feeling in the room was akin to exultant as we listened and celebrated a life well lived. And then it came back to me, that line my dad said to me when our baby girl was born: “I knew where Susan was going to be this morning, and I wanted to be here too.”

I remembered how much it meant to me to see my cousins at my mother’s funeral...especially the one who drove through the night from California. I wanted to be there for my cousins at their time of loss. I wanted to honor my wonderful aunt, pay my respects, and add my Amen. But I realized at that moment that yet another thought had driven me with an unconscious and unprecedented urgency: “I know where Susan (my mom) is going to be that morning, and I want to be there too.”

Silently, I let a question, a cry, leave my heart: “Are you here, Mom?” An unmistakable, warm and tingly flood came over me at that instant, and I knew that she was. Of COURSE she was at her wonderful sister’s funeral! And what if I had missed a chance to be with her?


* * * * *

Today we went to church. I sat quietly in the back trying to keep the kids quiet. But I couldn’t help thinking of a wonderful Loved One who died over two thousand years ago, and lives! Someone we adore. And my heart formed a similar sentence: I know where the Savior is going to be this morning, and I want to be there too. Attending church with that frame of mind made a difference for me. I felt jubilant. I knew He was there for me. I felt His presence. And His love. And I was filled. What if I had missed that chance to be with Him?

24 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I'm so sorry about your aunt. It sounds like you have a wonderfully supportive family.

Kimberly said...

I'm seriously in tears here, love. My heart feels all achy and my chest feels all tight, thinking of the beauty of that moment you got to experience...and not just once. What a gift. To be in tune enough to experience that, and to know, really know, how much love our Heavenly Father has for us to let such things be possible. I'm so glad you got to have that time with your Mom.

Kazzy said...

I am sorry you lost another lovely member of your family to that horrible disease, but I am glad you had a joyous reunion, and that you felt your mom. Very tender.

The Hyer Family said...

Fantastic--thank you for sharing that with us. It brought tears to my eyes and I love the application to Church--so true. On another note...I saw Jeremiah's commercial tonight on one of the programs in between conference sessions (yes I'm still wading through my TiVo'd conferences talks!)--the one where he has all the balloons--exciting!

The Hyer Family said...

Fantastic--thank you for sharing that with us. It brought tears to my eyes and I love the application to Church--so true. On another note...I saw Jeremiah's commercial tonight on one of the programs in between conference sessions (yes I'm still wading through my TiVo'd conferences talks!)--the one where he has all the balloons--exciting!

MommyJ said...

This is such a wonderful beautiful inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing. I've had a few moments when I''ve been keenly aware of my grandmother's presence across the veil. She loved babies so, I like to think she was there ushering little spirits across every time a great grand child has been born.

LisAway said...

Few people can make what some see as tragedy as beautiful as you can. Just lovely. I'm so happy you had the chance to be with your mom as you bid farewell to your aunt, and that you know the happy truth that you will see them both again. And I love the parallel drawn to the Savior and our chance to be where He is.

Barbaloot said...

What a lovely story about your dad. Totally brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad you had the opportunity to be at the funeral and bet where your mom was.

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, Charette, I'm bawling over here. What a beautiful post, what a touching tribute, what a moment I'm so glad I didn't miss.

My heart is sorrowed that you lost another loved one but rejoicing that you know it's not forever. Forever is the destination. And that last paragraph? I'll never see Sunday the same way again. I owe you so much for that.

Thank you friend. I needed this. I cherish this. I cherish you.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

This is SO beautiful. I love what you wrote/learned. And I owe you an email, don't I? So glad your post reminded me.

DeNae said...

I don't have the words, Jana. But thank you for giving me so many things to think about. Love you.

Dedee said...

This is a beautiful post and I am so glad to have read it today. I need testimony's like this so often. I'm so glad to know you. I'm glad that you were able to have some time with your mom as well!

Lara said...

You have me in tears. Thank you for your wise words and for making me think.

I'm sorry for the loss of your aunt, she sounds like a wonderful person.

Cari said...

Oh for heaven's sake! How do you hit the nail on the head every time?!

I'm so glad you made it to that funeral.

The Mom said...

I was not ready for that last paragraph. You have such a talent for making things simple (and making me cry). Thank you.

Luisa Perkins said...

The lump in my throat is huge. I wish I could hug you right this minute! What a wonderful weaving together of profound experiences. Thank you so much for yet another gift of self.

Brillig said...

Everyone told me to come and read this, and I thought, "but I just don't read blog posts anymore." But the suggestions came from well-loved sources, and you know how very much I love YOU, so here I am.

There are tears POURING down my face, and I make no effort to stop them. This post is so powerful, so poignant, and so TRUE.

What if I'd missed this post?

I needed this, the way I need you and your testimony and your spirit in my life. I'm so blessed to have all of those things. Thank you, my wonderful friend.

Melanie Jacobson said...

I relate to so much of this post. And I'm so glad we have the spirit to whisper to us when loved ones are near.

Heather of the EO said...

I'm sorry for your loss, sweet friend. And I'm so moved by your perspective. Your perspective of truth and love. Thank you....

Jessica said...

I love how you are able to weave beauty out of life- and death. Sorry for your loss. Love you- and your blog!

Mrs4444 said...

You're the best writer ever. I love you. And your dad? Love him, too.

I'm going to link this up on Saturday.

Kebeni said...

a sad yet beautiful post

Heidi said...

Too beautiful for words. You are a light along my path.

brown eyed girl said...

Wow! You are amazing! I love reading your blog and all the you share with us. I feel so blessed to be a part of your life. Thanks! XO