Please bear with me, as it is a bit longer than usual. It is a tribute to my precious mom, who passed away Dec. 27, 2020; but even more, it is a tribute to our wonderful God…
The word “funeral” doesn’t stir up any warm fuzzies in anyone. Quite the opposite, actually! And even the thought of having to deal with a funeral during COVID was enough to push my stress past its limits…
My mom’s health had been declining for a number of years, and my # 1 prayer for her for months on end was that God build a hedge of protection around her health that was impenetrable, so that she wouldn’t have to go to the doctor, right up until the day He had predestined to call her home. This prayer became even more fervent as COVID confined us to our homes and as her mobility issues became prohibitive for taking her anywhere by the car.
My second prayer was that God would spare her from needing to go into a care home. This was her greatest fear, and with her extensive health and mobility issues, she was but one tiny additional problem away from needing this level of care.
My third prayer was that when it was her time to go, she would do so quickly, without having to suffer.
My fourth prayer was perhaps a bit selfish, but that when it was her time to go, it would be at a convenient time.
My final prayer was that preferably, her time to go would NOT be during the pandemic!
As Christmas neared, we were upset to realize that our kids from western Canada wouldn’t be able to come home as they usually did for Christmas. In recent years, our pastor son has been unable to leave until the day after Christmas, and we have gotten into the habit of celebrating Christmas on New Years’ Eve, when the kids could be home. The one “plus” to COVID was that we could celebrate Christmas at the proper time… Just without our western kids.
As case counts continued to rise in our home province, we became concerned that our more local son wouldn’t be able to come home either; and that we potentially wouldn’t even be able to celebrate Christmas with my mom. Our son did come home however. He sacrificed by putting himself into self-isolation for two weeks, so as to be able to see his grandmother. Then our provincial premier declared a lock down for our province, but not until the day after Christmas. Thus, we all gathered together on Christmas Eve to celebrate Jesus’ birth, with our western kids projected electronically up on the wall.
The following day, my mom connected with all her kids and grand kids, and when I came over mid-afternoon to cook Christmas dinner, she was bright and happy. She helped me prepare the dinner, then when my son and husband arrived, she joked and laughed with all of us through the first course. It was while we were waiting for the main course that she turned. She said her stomach was upset, which wasn’t unusual for her, so we put her to bed and left her to “sleep it off” while we went down to look at the local Christmas lights.
We had barely gotten to our destination, 30 minutes away, when she called, in excruciating pain. She passed away quietly a day and a half later.
We were devastated. Yet everywhere we looked, God’s hand was evident. When I think back to my months’ long prayers for her, I realize that God answered the first four. Ever since I began praying them, mom did not have any further coups to her health. Her medical problems were all managed by visiting nurses and caregivers, and she was able to remain in her home, where she wanted to be. Due to the pandemic, my husband and I were unable to “fly” south for the winter, as we normally do, and God knew it was the most convenient time possible for such an awful occurrence. And even her suffering at the end did not last long.
But what about that last prayer? The one about her not passing away during COVID? As I thought about that, I realized that in God’s wisdom, the pandemic offered the perfect time. Not only were we not travelling, but we were actually able to celebrate Christmas at the proper time. If we had celebrated as usual, mom would have missed Christmas.
And about that funeral? This was the reason I had asked God to not take her home during COVID. I mean, how can you properly honor someone when you are limited to 10 people? When all of your friends and family are stuck south of a closed border? When the only pastor in the family (our western son), couldn’t come home to officiate?
God had that one figured out, too. Twenty-five & twenty-seven years ago, He gave me two wonderful sons, both of whom would grow up during the technological boom. Our pastor-son collected video tributes from most of the kids and grandchildren. He recorded his wife singing a beautiful song. He put it all together, along with her eulogy, and live-streamed “in” to the funeral home. Meanwhile, our local son collected tributes from those who didn’t wish to do videos, which he read in their stead. He managed the technology on our end so that the entire service was live-streamed “out” to all her friends and family who couldn’t attend. It all came together beautifully, to the point that one of her dear friends later told me she had never, ever been to such a touching funeral.
There is so much more I could tell, but as I think about all this, two Bible texts come to mind:
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.” (Eccl. 3:11a NLT); and
“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalms 139:16 NLT)
These texts blow my mind. God knew the day my mom would come home to Him before she was even born. He knew that we would be in the midst of a pandemic, and He planned for everything to fall perfectly into place — 84 years in advance! With a God who does all of that, how can we ever go wrong?
Is God near in the dark times?
Is His timing right?
Does He carry us through?
And the moment I start to forget those truths, I pray that God will remind me of the “funeral like no other”!
My mom would have wanted this story to be told. She would have wanted others to be blessed by the happenings around her passing. She would have been so happy to know that she could be an encouragement to someone during their own dark times. In memory of my mom, I ask each of you to remember this story the next time you find yourselves in dark times. Remember: God is near, His timing is always right, and no matter what the outcome, He will carry you through!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.