"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
John 14:1-3 (KJV)
The realization of what happened that early morning of April 25th washed over me like a tidal wave.
Mom had partially crossed over...to the other side.
Tsalmaveth had come.
He had been there....in her room...by her bedside.
He was ready to take her home.
But....he had listened to our request, he had considered it, and he had gone to tell the Master.
Obviously, the Master had granted our wish....at least, for the moment.
How kind and gracious of our Father!
During the next three days, some remarkable things happened.
I don't know that I will ever be able to express some of them.
Maybe it is too fresh...too new.
Perhaps the pain is too acute...for me to even voice it right now.
But, there are some things I find myself wanting to share....even now.
Because they are too wonderful to remain untold.
I walked into Mom's room, and she was trying her best to tell me things.
I had to strain and listen hard....and get down close enough to her face to try to hear.
The force of the oxygen made it so hard for her to speak.
I pulled the mask away from her face....just long enough to try to grasp at least a word...of what she was trying to say.
I would catch bits and pieces...here and there....and as I repeated them, Mom would nod or shake her head in reply....to confirm.
All at once, she began to wave her frail, little hands, making her fingers flutter, as she said,
"I saw butterflies!"
"Butterflies? You saw butterflies, Mom?"
"Yes, I saw butterflies."
She looked so peaceful...so content...so unafraid to think or speak of what just happened.
To contemplate the fact that her soul had just caught a glimpse...of the other side.
What was there to fear?
She had a deep, settled peace with God....in her inmost soul.
Her body was tired.
She had suffered long.
There was a better place awaiting her...a place with no pain, and no tears.
"What else did you see, Mom? Anything else?"
I was so eager to hear...anything...everything.
I had to know.
She nodded her head...a feeble "yes".
So, there was more!
"I saw flowers."
"Really, Mom? You saw flowers?"
"What color were they, Mom?"
Naturally....her favorite color has always been orchid/lavender.
Of course, God would allow the flowers to be purple...just for her.
"What else, Mom?"
"It was quiet."
Her voice was weak, but you could hear the drop when she said "quiet"....like it was something for which she longed and yearned.
She hated the noise and commotion and confusion of the hospital.
The constant chaos so unnerved her.
"It was quiet....and peaceful."
"Was it bright, Mom? Was it bright?"
"When I got to the top, it was."
"Why didn't you just let me die?"
She looked at me so pitifully...it tore at my heart.
So, she had wanted to go....to go on?
Could it be that she didn't want me to keep begging....for more time...for her?
"Because we don't want you to die, Mom. We want to keep you as long as we can."
My voice was breaking...the tears were spilling over.
"But, to go through all this?"
"I know, Mom. I'm so sorry."
Her mother-heart reached out to my distress....she could see that I felt bad for trying to keep her here....for clinging so tightly to the fragile thread of life...still fighting so hard inside of her.
Quick to always allay my fears, she said,
"No, you did the right thing."
"No, you did the right thing."
"I'm glad, Mom. I just don't want to lose you."
There were pauses in between my words....my halting words....spoken slowly through tears.
She knew I was still begging God for more time.
She realized He had answered my heart cry...one more time.
Somehow, I knew it was only a temporary answer...this time was going to be different.
He was trying His best to prepare me...to take a bit of the pain away by easing me into the idea of the possibility of my life going on....without Mom.
How could it? Ever?
Saturday, three days after her journey there and back....she was gone.
This time, there was no coming back.
Tsalmaveth had returned.
This time, with specific orders from the Master.
There would be no negotiation...for more time.
Ready or not, we would have to cope.
She had suffered enough.
The Master....the Master Builder of her mansion....could wait no longer....to show her the splendor of her new home.
So anxious was He! To take her hand and lead her there!
Almost every time we would ask Mom where she wanted us to read from the Bible, she would say,
"The 14th chapter of John."
She loved hearing Jesus say, "Let not your heart be troubled. In My Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself...that where I am, there ye may be also."
Her mansion...the one He had gone away to prepare for her....it was finished.
He was ready to receive her....unto Himself.
It was time for her to go home...with Him.
We would have to accept His will as being perfect....for her.
We would have to adjust.
Amazingly, when the dreaded moment arrived, the scenario was eerily just like LD's vision.
He was at the foot of her bed, holding on to her foot, feeling the pulse weaken...and become less and less frequent.
I was on one side.
Debbie was on the other.
Kevin came as soon as he could.
She quietly, and very peacefully, made her final crossing....with Tsalmaveth.
Somehow, knowing he was the one who came for her.....made it so much easier to bear.
LD caught a glimpse....just a slight one, as the curtain moved....for no apparent, physical reason.
My cousin and dear friend, Jennifer called to comfort me.
She tried so hard to find the right words.
I told her about the vision.
I shared what Mom had seen...that morning....on the other side....when she had crossed over, then came back.
"Cheryl! You know what butterflies symbolize, ."
"Butterflies symbolize transformation. Getting your wings. Coming out of your cocoon. Being set free!"
"Oh, Jennifer, you're right!"
I had wondered why Mom saw butterflies.
I had never heard of butterflies being in Heaven.
God was trying to tell her....and us....that the time of her transformation was at hand.
She would soon be set free!
Free from suffering, tears, hurt, fear.
The cocoon of her frail, little body would soon give way to a triumphant liberation.
She would fly away...with Tsalmaveth.
She would win this war.
She had earned her wings!
There was nothing to fear.
Except the breaking of my heart.
And the terrible dread of the future....without her here.