“The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime and in the night His song shall be with me . . .” Psalm 42:8
Mother loved to sing. She sang in the car, while she mopped the kitchen floor, picked fresh corn from the garden, made tuna fish sandwiches for her brood, or rocked a fussy baby to sleep. Her singing calmed my spirit and made me feel safe and loved. Perhaps the most memorable songs were those she sang after the sun went down.
Mom was diagnosed with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma Stage IV in 2008. She often said that nights were the hardest. It was then that she wrestled the most with her dreaded cancer.
During the day she kept busy going to appointments, playing games on her computer, and helping to manage the properties she and my dad owned in eastern Colorado. At night, when the rest of the world was sleeping, she had time to think. She worried about treatments – which were good, which were not?
She was sad knowing that unless God intervened on her behalf, she was going to die.
She and dad had been together since they were teens. What would happen to him? She was sad when she thought about leaving her family often saying, “Maybe I love them too much.”
Mom fought long and hard. Many days she suffered indescribable pain. Only near the end did she take to her bed. When she could no longer get out of bed, the hospice nurse suggested a monitor – one beside mom’s bed and one in the living room next to my dad’s chair so he could hear if she needed him.
One night I sat in the living room with dad. The door to the bedroom was shut hoping that mom would rest. A few minutes passed and then, over the monitor, we heard singing. Mom’s voice cracked with age and weariness, but it was beautiful:
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus . . .” the sleeping medication blurred her words. She finished the refrain and then there was a brief moment of silence before she launched into another song. The tears rolled silently down my cheeks.
Mom started singing herself to sleep a couple of years before she died. She sang songs about heaven, songs of longing for Jesus, songs of trust and songs of surrender.
One night I laid on the bed next to her in the darkness, her hand tucked in mine. She started singing, then stopped and invited, “Sing with me.”
“I sing,” she said between songs, “So God won’t forget where I am.”
“Oh, mama,” I sobbed, “God will never forget you.”
“Do you think heaven is real?” she asked.
I suppose when you are so close to eternity you question a lot of things. Do I? I wondered. I hesitated for only a moment before saying, yes, mama; I know that heaven is real. It’s that assurance that would give me the courage to face a tomorrow without her. Mom sang as an expression of her faith in the dark night of her soul. She sang “just because” it’s what she did when life came crashing down.
I looked at dad, settled comfortably in his recliner. He, too, was weeping. For one “sweet beyond words” moment, I forgot that mother was dying.
My spirit calmed. I was a little girl again listening to her sing. I felt safe and loved. God had not forgotten mother. Life was crashing down and He was there with a beautiful song in the night.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name”.
Mother was Stage IV for 3 ½ years. There were moments during those years that were sweet beyond words, and moments that were incredibly difficult. One of the hardest was on Thanksgiving Day, November 2011, when her heart stopped beating, she took her final breath, and the battle was over.