It was a bright and sunny day about a year and a half ago. I was alone with my mom in the car on the way to my grandma’s funeral. Sorrow and my mom’s perfume mixed in the air with the smell of leather seating. She put on a Celtic praise cd and put on a song entitled, “Garments of praise”. I looked over and saw how, at age 65, my mom was still the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
“I want this song played at my funeral.” She said.
“Mom, stop it. Don’t say things like that.” I immediately replied. I hated it when she’d make statements like that.
She answered, “Well, I just thought you’d want to know.”
Her comment scared me, which made the grief for my grandma more complicated.
Who knew how quickly her request would be called in.
Then she turned up the volume higher than I thought she ever would, a signal for me to stop talking, and I watched the familiar tears began to fall down her face as she sang along.
I often remember my mom crying while she worshipped. I never did understand why.
It’s been almost three weeks since my mom died, and as I hide under the sheets in bed listening to that same song with those yearning, Celtic bagpipes, I immediately go back to that warm ride in the car. And then quickly my mind takes me back to a few weeks ago when I was at my mom’s hospital bedside. I held her hand firmly in mine as we stared at each other listening to our song again.
“Remember this song, Mom?” I said as I leaned in closely. She nodded slightly with the little strength the brain cancer hadn’t yet taken. Those 30 minutes of worship alone with my mom were the most sacred minutes of my life. They are as precious to me as the day my children were born. After decades of being in church together, I knew this would be our last worship time with each other; this would be our last moments of anything together. And I knew if she had one last request, she would have asked to worship the Lord.
And then I flash to when she lost consciousness for the last time and I worshipped alone, singing the words as she did, with tears in my eyes and with the deepest longing I’ve ever known. Oh, how I wished she’d open her eyes just one more time. I never had a beautiful singing voice like she did, but I sang with unguarded sorrow, knowing she was truly on her way to the One she longed for her entire life. Her tears were being wiped away forever; never again would she sing praises with an aching heart. As her longing was being fulfilled, mine was growing deeper.
Being on this side of her life, where I have to play old phone messages to hear her voice, I think I understand what all her worship tears were about. It’s beyond desire; it’s a homesickness that earth can never satisfy. It’s an impossible need that, try as I might, can’t be fulfilled this side of Heaven.
But, I know one day it will be.
I miss you, Mom. I can just imagine your joy now…
Here’s a link to the song, “Garments of Praise.”