I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds.
I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment.
I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma spent her final days. Twelve hours from the place she created a home full of love and memories for us. Twelve hours away from that place that now holds a new memory—her death. And so I prayed to be there when my momma died—in the same state, in the same room, and in the same moment as her.
My momma had loved me, supported me, cheered me on, and given me endless wisdom and tough love in my 43 years of life. She gave me the absolute best of herself for every second I breathed. She gave me the best of herself from the moment she gave birth to me, to the moment she put me on the school bus for kindergarten, to the moment I drove away to college, to the moment I got married and moved across the country. She was there. Alive. Loving me. Giving me her all.
And so when my dad called and said, “It’s time to come home, Sarah,” there was no doubt what I would do. No doubt what I wanted to do. No doubt what my soul needed me to do. I needed to see my momma take her last breath. She had been a part of every single breath of my life—even across miles and time zones—and so I could find the strength to be a part of her last breath.
Because that’s what you do when hard things in life come. That’s what my momma did. I saw her take meals to the sick, I saw her love on the broken and the “least of these.” I saw her welcome the hurting into her home and into her heart. All her days I saw her loving on her world and felt her loving on me. And doing the hard things. It’s as if her whole life, she was preparing me for my hardest thing . . . to watch her die.
Maybe your hard thing is cancer like my momma’s was. Or maybe it is divorce, depression, a deployment, or an estranged relationship. We all have different hard things, but we all have the same choice in how we deal with these hard things.
We can either hide away, wish it all away and pretend we are okay, or we can be open to the hard thing. We can be open to our pain. We can be open to the unanswered question of why? When we are open to the pain and find the courage and strength to do our hard thing, we also become aware and open to our neighbor’s pain, to our sister’s heartache, to our friend’s loss.
Hard is where you discover how brave and strong you really are. Hard is where you feel God’s presence like never before. Hard is where you realize everyone is either in the midst of surviving their hard thing or has the same scars as you from surviving.
So I could have stayed 12 hours away and avoided fully experiencing my momma’s final days. Her final days of losing a battle with cancer. But I decided to run toward the hard. And I prayed that God would give me the desire of my heart—to sit in the house I grew up in, with my dad and siblings at my mother’s bedside, and watch her soul leave this earth. It was hard. Devastatingly hard.
But in reflection almost a year later, there is a new emotion now tied to my hard thing: thankfulness. I am overwhelmingly thankful for who my momma was in her life. I am thankful for the love she gave me and all those around her. I am thankful for all the people who loved on me during that time and all the people who have been placed in my path to love and encourage me now.
I am thankful I found the strength to see my momma die. I am thankful I found the strength to move forward with my life and the strength to share these words with you.
So if you are in the midst of your hard thing, I encourage you to hold on. Hold on to Him. Hold on to those around you and hold on to your strength. Your world needs you. Your world needs to see you do your hard thing, to survive your hard thing, and to bear your scars from your hard thing well. It’s where they find the strength to survive their hard thing.