As some of you may have seen on Twitter and Facebook, my Mum died yesterday. She lost her battle with lung cancer, which I’d written about previously. The picture on the left was taken at Christmas last year; it’s probably one of my favourite pictures of her. It’s amazing to think how much things changed in the five months following that. Some of it I have written about in the post I linked to, after that things went downhill pretty rapidly. About two months ago, Mum had an infection that was so bad she had to go into a hospice in Ipswich. We thought at the time it might be the end, but it turned out not to be the case: she came out of the hospice two weeks later.
After that, she remained at home with some help from NHS carers and Marie Curie nurses, who helped Dad to care for her and keep her comfortable. She was rarely able to leave the bed after coming back home, but nonetheless she had a steady stream of visitors and despite finding it difficult to talk was able to keep them all amused with her little witticisms.
A couple of weeks ago, after we went for the 20 week scan at the hospital, we showed Mum the scan picture and she said “I can go now” – she’d seen the baby, and she was happy. The weekend before last, Phil and I went up to spend the weekend with them and had a really good time. Mum was on good form, seemed to be happier than she had been, and we were able to have a good weekend together as a family. Everything seemed right in a funny kind of way, and somehow I felt at peace about her situation.
We went up again last Saturday, and this time Mum seemed a bit more distant – talking was clearly more of an effort, and she didn’t respond so much to us unless you asked a direct question.
On Sunday I had a message from my Dad to say that Mum had had a bad coughing fit during the night and wasn’t expected to live the day out. It was something of a shock to be honest – although it wasn’t completely unexpected, I didn’t think it would be so soon. We drove up to Ipswich straight away, but when we got there we found that she’d been dead for about half an hour already. Apparently for the last part she was unresponsive, so it’s not clear how much she knew what was happening. She died peacefully and not in pain, which apparently is unusual for lung cancer.
I don’t know what to write here, really. I just don’t know where to start with a tribute. Mum was the best Mum I could have asked for. She was always there, with her funny ways! She would always ask the awkward questions, she would always tell me how tired I looked – but I knew it was because she cared for me. She would constantly sing “Oh, what a wonderful wonderful day” – an old Christian hymn – just that one line! – when she was working around the house.
She would always ring up with computer problems for me to fix, usually problems she’d got into because when the computer didn’t do what she wanted she decided to press all the buttons and see! And she was the one who really held the family together, without her I have no idea how I’ll find out what everyone is up to.
The thing I’ll probably remember most about her is her faith. She always trusted in God, always pointed us towards the Lord Jesus. On the penultimate weekend with her, Phil and I had just come from a funeral where a passage from 1 Corinthians 15 had been read, and I decided to read it with her. As I read it, she nodded along, clearly engaging with it, clearly believing it with all her heart.
I know that Mum is now with the Lord, and I know that she will rise again on the last day. Yesterday someone pointed me to this passage from 1 Thessalonians 4:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I write this post less than 48 hours after my Mum passed away – and yet I do not grieve like those “who have no hope” – we grieve, yes, but we grieve with hope. I know I will see Mum again one day, and I know she is safe in God’s everlasting arms. Let me tell you these are not just empty words but real truths which make a real difference.
And let me encourage you, if you don’t already, to believe in that same Lord Jesus who promises never to drive away any who turn to Him.