The first Christmas without my mom came and went.
There was very little talk about her.
As if the leaking floodgates would swing wide open if we spoke of her.
For my mom, Christmas was a time for celebrating family and God.
I grew up in a religious family. My grandfather was a minister, my dad became a minister, and my mom was a devout Christian. We went to church on Sundays – sometimes twice – and Wednesday evenings too. I was in the youth group, bell choir, and I got baptized twice. Yes. Twice. I didn’t remember my first one and I asked to do it again a few years later so I could remember it. I think I wrote a big sappy speech and everything.
As I entered my teenage years, my parents attended different churches with different fundamental beliefs; my church divided due to my pastor’s affair; and one of my best friends committed suicide. This was my breaking point for organized religion. I simply couldn’t come to terms with the things happening around me.
Today, if someone asked me if I was a Christian, the answer would be no.
But I do believe there is a soul.
What it is, what it means, and what happens to it, I cannot even begin to speculate. I do not believe we were created at once by an all powerful being. But I do believe in energy and connection – a spiritual connection of all things living and non living. Perhaps this spiritual energy is simply atoms and waves connecting everything that was once stardust.
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” – Carl Sagan
My sense of spirituality is strong, yet my beliefs are raw and undefined. My mom, however, had an unwavering belief in God. She went to multiple bible studies and yearned to learn all she could about being a Christian. She lived every day according to the Bible to the best of her ability.
On July 14th, 2017, my mom had been in the hospital for 7 days. She had continued to show no signs of recovery and we were beginning to make very difficult decisions… It was time for my uncle, brother, sister, and I to meet with the palliative care nurse.
Through gasping sobs, I shared that I had been thinking about this looming conversation we were about to have and there were three things I knew about my mom that would help us make decisions:
- She hated people doing things for her and she would not want machines to live for her.
- She was afraid of dying alone at home and perhaps we have an opportunity here to surround her with all the people that love her.
- She has spent her whole life preparing for and looking forward to meeting God.
Our decisions were just that:
- Do not resuscitate.
- Invite everyone that was a part of her life to come spend time with her.
- Welcome her faith and religion into her room as she prepared to meet her God.
The upcoming days unfolded just as my mom would have liked – with an outpouring of love and prayer. There was rarely a time when there was NOT a visitor in her room. Many friends prayed for her, grasping her hand. Some spoke in tongues. Some sang. Many read bible verses. Some sat in silence.
Her friends told her to stay – this was not her time and not God’s plan.
Others told her that they are praying for her and they trust God to help her decide whether to stay or go.
And some would ask to pray with my siblings and I. Although this made us uncomfortable, this was not for us. This was for my mom.
We made these last days full of God’s love – just as she would have wanted it.
It was not my belief. But maybe it is just a different version of my stardust and energy. Just different perspectives for the same phenomenon that we struggle to understand – the soul.
Minutes after my mom passed, I looked at her and did not recognize her pale skin and sullen face. “That’s not her,” I said.
Perhaps that is proof there is a soul.
I visit my mom often at Oak Hill Cemetery. It is a nice release of my leaky floodgates. I talk to her as though she is there. But I know she is everywhere now. I feel her soul. She is waves of energy. She is here. There. Always.
She is stardust.