"Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God."
Psalm 69:1-3 (KJV)
I can say, without hesitation, that the past three days have absolutely been the most unbearable three days of my life.
The waters have come into my soul.
I am sinking in deep mire, where there is no standing.
I am come into deep, painful, turbulent waters.
The floods overflow me.
And I am weary of crying.
Saturday, I said good-bye to the one who has loved and cared about me for 45 years.
The one who stood by me, no matter how hard the task.
Mom was always there.
Whatever was going on in our lives, she loved us, she worried about us, and she prayed for us.
To know that she is no longer here, fills my inmost spirit with near-unbearable pain.
We pulled into the parking lot, into the familiar parking spot.
How many times have I made that turn?
I looked towards the familiar door, and I stared at the pretty pink and purple wreath I made for her years ago.
She always loved that wreath.
One time, she thought she needed a change from it, but she ended up keeping it just the same.
I found myself hoping...wishing...longing....to see her sweet face appear in the doorway, with her frail, little hands holding to her walker for support....her welcoming smile, beckoning us to come in....like so many times before.
What I wouldn't give to have that security, that love, that welcome....just one..more..time.
This time when I looked, the door was closed.
So cold. So uninviting. So final.
Somehow, I mustered courage...from someplace deep inside, and I opened the car door.
I took step after agonizing step...each one bringing me closer to the task I dreaded most.
I had hoped I would have more time...time to absorb what is happening...time to gain the strength to turn that doorknob....but it was not to be.
How could I go in there....without her?
I had no choice, no time to accumulate courage....to walk into that room.
Rent would soon be due. The job had to be done. Business is business.
I put the key in the door, and it unlocked.
I touched the knob and turned it until it released and opened.....to the familiar blue recliner.
Sitting lonely and still...without Mom.
I walked across the threshold into the room that is filled to the brim with so many happy, sweet, and precious memories.
They flooded over me like a tidal wave, threatening to drown every ounce of crushed, struggling-to-survive hope inside of me.
Somehow, I walked to the kitchen past her spot at the table.
I stood and stared at her empty chair....and I sobbed....like a baby.
How can anything hurt this much?
My family rallied around me, and we trudged through the daunting task...of emptying out the place that held so much happiness...so many special recollections...now void of the one who made them possible.
We took turns going to pieces...all of us....throughout the day...as we came across her things.
They stirred feelings and emotions buried deep.
They brought them right to the surface.
We found comfort in each other.
Time after time after time.
Until, at last, the last dish was packed, the apartment was completely clean, and the emptiness settled over me with an inconsolable pain.
Right before I turned to leave, I stood in her room...one more time....at the very spot her extra bed had stood for so long.
I saw the indentations in the carpet from the bed frame.
I thought of the many times I had sat on that bed....across from hers, and we had talked and laughed and enjoyed just the wonderful privilege of being together.
I thought of the times my knees had hit the floor beside it, as we agreed in prayer together for countless burdens, distresses, and problems.
As I stood there, it happened.
I completely fell apart.
It was too much.
I felt my heart shatter...the way it has shattered countless times over the past three days.
It's a wonder it didn't make an audible sound.
Last night, I tried to sleep....I was SO completely exhausted.
I jolted awake, thinking I needed to call ICU and see how she was doing.
I remembered Amber was on duty...the dear, caring, sweet, little nurse who was there when Mom took her last breath....standing beside us...crying right along with us.
She said Mom was the best, kindest, sweetest patient she had ever had.
I picked up the phone, my hands shaking, and I called the familiar number.
I heard Amber's familiar voice on the other end.
"Amber? It's Cheryl."
"Mrs. Cheryl! I've been worried about y'all. How are you doing?'
"Not too good, Amber. I keep thinking I need to call and check on her", I sobbed hopelessly into the phone.
"Oh, Mrs. Cheryl! I am SO sorry."
She listened. She cared. She understood....this nagging, gnawing, tormenting pain.
This morning, I dragged myself out of bed to make the dreaded phone calls.
I disconnected service to the phone number I have called, literally hundreds of times through the years.
I will call it no more.
I wouldn't want to.
She wouldn't answer.
Each time I hung up....from cancelling services, making necessary changes, I realized I was closing another chapter, in my sweet Mom's book of life.
Today, Kevin, Zachary, and I pulled into the so-familiar parking lot one last time.
We needed to check her mail.
Zachary begged for the task.
How many times has he done that for her?
We walked...the three of us...hand-in-hand...each supporting the other....into the office, and we turned in her key.
Kevin and Zachary stood with me in the parking lot, and we cried, together.
We took one last, long, lingering look towards her apartment.
We cried harder.
Then we turned to go.