A Long Good-bye (Part Two)

9 04 2013


Dear Mom,

First, I want to say thank you. Thank you for always letting me be who I was created to be. Even when you couldn’t understand, you never tried to change me. For this I am deeply and eternally grateful. I’ve always known I could be honest with you and you would accept and love me. That’s an amazing gift, and it emboldens me now to bare my heart.

There are many things that I long to say to you — or rather, that I long for you to hear. Some of them I have said before and others I have attempted to say, but in recent months I’m not sure my words have penetrated the fog of forgetfulness or the bone-deep weariness that no amount of sleep seems to satisfy.

And now? That longing has become urgent.

A couple of weeks ago we found out your cancer is back. The doctor predicts you have four-to-six weeks left.

Soon your spirit will leave your body. You’ll stand face to face with God, and Mom? I have to say this. I know we’ve gone ’round and ’round about Jesus for the past forty years, and sometimes you’ve been annoyed by my “fanaticism,” but all those conversations have been swirling in my head, and I can’t let it go. Not now, with death standing at the door.

God’s timing is always purposeful. It’s no accident that the news of your cancer’s recurrence ushered us into Holy Week. It accompanied me as Jesus broke the bread and poured out the wine, and as He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet. I felt its weight as He bowed low in the garden and prayed, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” and again as He silently endured hatred, mockery, and scorn — all crimes He knew He would soon willingly take the blame for along with every other sin that ever had been or ever would be committed.

The news of your cancer rang in my ears as the crowds shouted, “Crucify Him!” and as He stumbled under the weight of His cross through the streets of Jerusalem on the way to Golgotha.

And as I heard Perfect Love utter, “Father, forgive them”?

It was for you. For you.

And I want to be sure you know this, but I fumble for words, and then I open the Word, and Isaiah speaks.

A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

The word of our God will stand forever. And this is the word of our God:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:11,27-28)

And this from Romans 8:31-39:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And this is what I hope with all my heart that you know: that God has made this beautiful, pursuing love available to you, to me, and to anyone who hears his voice and follows, but that’s the only offer on the table. There is no one good enough, no one entertaining enough (you once told me God wanted you in heaven because you’re fun), no one even remotely deserving of God’s mercy and forgiveness. We can’t earn God’s favor, and the good news is we don’t have to try. Even when we were filthy, disgusting, and putrid in our sins, Christ loved us, came for us, died for us, rose from the dead, and has gone to prepare a place for us.

We can’t do anything, and we don’t have to. He has done it all.

I hope you understand that you can only come to Him empty handed. You can’t do or be a single thing to gain eternal life. You can only receive it. God loves us so much, He sent His only Son to take our guilt, our shame, our lies and selfishness, and to replace them with His goodness and perfection.

Jesus laid down His life for the sins of the whole world, but that doesn’t make salvation automatic. God is loving and good, but He is also fair, and eternal death is our due. Eternal life is a free gift Jesus paid the ultimate price to offer, but He doesn’t force it on anyone.

A long, long time ago you told me you believed Jesus was God’s Son and that He came to show us how to live. When I asked you why He died on the cross, you said, “I don’t know. I’ve always been upset with God about that.”

And I don’t remember what I said back then, but I want to say this now: Yes, Jesus did show us how to live, but that’s not why He came. He came to die our death. He came to break the teeth of cancer and Alzheimer’s and pride and self-sufficiency — to obey His Father’s will, to pay the penalty for the sins of the human race, and to usher us whole and holy back into the presence of God.

You are fun, Mom, but God doesn’t invite party guests into His kingdom. He adopts sons and daughters.

In your lifetime you have feasted abundantly on common grace. You’ve been cherished, protected, and provided for. Your husband adores you, your friends admire you, and your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren love you dearly. Your portion has been sweet.

But the flower is fading. The grass is withering. And God’s Word is relentless. Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.

You’ve feasted on common grace — the sun that shines and the rain that falls on the just and the unjust — but have you ever tasted saving grace? Have you heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and followed Him?

If you haven’t, there’s still time. Jesus’ body was broken for you. His blood was shed for you. Take. Eat. Even now the Lord of the universe stoops low to wash your feet. Won’t you fall into His embrace and live forever?

I love you so much, Mom, but not nearly as much as God does. Please hear. And please, please be His.

When it comes time for good-bye, may you go in peace.

And may we meet again.

Your daughter,



28 responses

9 04 2013
Linda Gilmore

I’m keeping you and your family in my prayers as you walk with your Mom through the end of her journey. My mom died of a brain tumor 2 years ago and it’s hard to watch the person who gave you life reach the end of hers. May God hold you in his arms and give you the peace that passes all understanding, and may he touch your mom in a way that she will know his presence and love.

9 04 2013

Amen. Thank you, Linda. I appreciate your words and your prayers so much. xo

9 04 2013
Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth)

Breathtaking. Real. Jesus, may these words (and especially Your word) penetrate beneath the veil. Amen.

9 04 2013

Thank you, Mary. Love you, friend. And amen to that request. Grant it, Lord.

9 04 2013
Barbara H.

Praying for you and your mom, that God will give her clarity of mind to understand and accept Jesus as her Savior. My own mom was not a believer, and in her last years became more interested, yet still did not want to discuss it directly. God brought the truth across her path in various ways, and I’m praying she took it in. There are some signs that she did, but it is agonizing not to know for sure.

9 04 2013

Barbara, I’m so sorry for your uncertainty about your mom. I do know that God is good, and He is able to reveal Himself. I pray for your comfort as you lean on His faithfulness. Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers.

9 04 2013
Holly Cornwell

What a beautiful gift you’ve always been to your mom, and now more than ever. She’s heard you. She’s hearing God’s gentle whisper too. She will be welcomed with open loving arms. And a peace that none of us can comprehend yet…until we meet again. Love to you.

9 04 2013

Thank you, Holly, for these words. I love your tender heart. Have I ever told you how grateful I am that you’re my neighbor? Truly I am. Much love to you.

9 04 2013
Simply Darlene

Lord God, remove the scales and buckle the knees; strengthen the weary and guide Your children in grace and mercy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

9 04 2013

Amen. Thank you, Darlene, for your friendship and your prayers. Grateful for you.

9 04 2013

My heart aches with yours. We were in a very similar place in 2007 with our Mom. Long rejecting the Lord Jesus because she wasn’t worthy–at one point saying she received Him as Savior, but yet no Light shone in her life. Her life coming to an end was due to medical errors and dementia which increased suddenly and dramatically. We had no idea if she heard us, or knew us in her last days. But, as you do, we contended for her life, with tears and shouts (she was then deaf) testifying to the love of Jesus, and the Lord’s open arms awaiting. Our hope is in His grace, yet we do not know if she was His in the end. Our hope is in His love, which called her to become so defenseless and child-like in the end. I pray for your mother’s salvation, her complete rest in the arms of the One who redeems and saves to the uttermost. And that you will have His peace knowing He does all things well and from a heart of endless grace.

9 04 2013

I’m so sorry about your mom, Sue. You are right. Our hope is in His grace, and our hope is in His love. And, yes, He does all things well. Such good, true, comforting words. Thank you for this. Love to you.

9 04 2013

echoing the ache resounding — in the middle of a similar long goodbye with my mom who feels no need for Jesus either, so I pray, and pray and pray again…

9 04 2013

Praying with you, Karin. Our good and loving God hears. May we learn to lean more and more into His goodness and grace. Peace to you. Peace of Christ to you. xo

9 04 2013
Linda Chontos

I hear your heart cry Jeanne, and I know the Father bends down low and listens. I’ve been praying for moments of pure clarity for you Mom; moments when you can speak these words. Praying the Holy Spirit will draw her and use your words to pull her into the arms of Jesus.

9 04 2013

Thank you, dear Linda. It’s such a comfort to know you are praying. Love you, friend.

9 04 2013

The Lord bless you and your family. We get to trust that when we pray, God hears our prayers, and also that when death draws near, people often are reduced to a childlike state, and Christ said “Let the little children come, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And so, Jeanne, I pray that your mom will be able to receive in spirit what she may not have understood the need for, when she was still self-sufficient. And may the Lord give you a spirit of peace and rest.

9 04 2013

Amen. Thank you for this encouragement and sweet, insightful prayer. Love.

9 04 2013
Patricia Hunter

((((Jeanne)))) So tender. I echo every other prayer spoken here, and will not stop praying until your mom is safely home. Much love to you, dear friend.

9 04 2013

Thank you, Patricia. I take much comfort in the knowledge that faithful friends are holding Mom before the throne of grace. Love and appreciate you so much. xo

9 04 2013
Tatia Cook

Sweet woman…I’ve been praying for clarity for your mom, praying for her to KNOW that she is loved dearly, not just by you but by our Heavenly Father. Thank you for sharing with us what you long for her to HEAR. It guides us in our prayers and breaks our hearts at the same time. May her remaining time here on this Earth be lived in the knowledge of how wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love for her and may His Peace overwhelm all of you, Jeanne, as you walk this path God has prepared for you. I love you!

9 04 2013

Thank you, dear Tatia. And Amen to your prayers. I love your tender heart and appreciate your friendship so much. Love you, too.

9 04 2013
Jeanette Webber

I commented on your Long Good-bye Part One, and now will comment again on Part Two. (I usually am not a commenter!) You have such a gift. Deep calls to deep – we simply don’t know what’s going on in the DEEP place of your mom’s heart but HE does, and HE calls, and HE loves, and HE speaks to that place. My mom went to be with Him yesterday. Reunited with my dad after only 8 months separation. I believe she ‘knew’ me a few moments during these final days, but, boy is this journey a challenging one. Thank you for giving it out loud words. Praying for you and yours….your fan….Jeanette

10 04 2013

Oh, Jeanette! Thank you for taking the time to enter our journey and to express these dear, true, hopeful words in the midst of your own fresh grief. I’m humbled by your kindness and prayers. May our kind Lord be your comfort in these days as you think of your mom, whole and free in His presence. And may His grace be your portion every moment. Much love to you.

9 04 2013

Just here with you now, Jeanne, whispering prayers to the Father for your dear mom. I believe He comes to us even while we sleep, even when we are no longer aware of the world around us. I am praying He will meet her in that quiet space. And I pray He will comfort your heart and give you rest. His arm is not too short to save. (((you)))

10 04 2013

Yes, Tonia. Thank you for this. We are praying the same, that God will reveal Himself to her in her sleep and that she will behold Jesus in all His beauty and be swept away by His grace. He is able. I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to know you are also praying this way. Much love. xo

9 04 2013

I’m keeping you both in my thoughts Jeanne. Constantly in awe of your passion and tender heart. x

10 04 2013

Thank you, Elizabeth. You’re such a dear. (Just realized it’s been ten years since our paths first crossed on LJ. So glad they did!)

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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