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I Want to Stay Awake to See Him

Struggling after the deaths of both of her parents, Melissa discovers unexpected joy in a "painfully beautiful" encounter.

In the past year, I discovered that life is beautiful. I experienced agony and desperation intermingled with joy and gratitude. Watching both of my parents take their last breaths forced me into the position of needing an intimate knowledge of solitude rather than a simple understanding of it. The only thing that mattered in the moments of their deaths was that they were one with Christ.


In the end my mom kept asking to go home, and when she passed a panic set in for me. She was MY home. It forced me to ask myself, “If not her as my home then Who?” For a while, I isolated myself with my grief, not wanting to risk my heart to the people in my life. It seemed meaningless to count on people to walk with me. I couldn’t cling to them because I knew they would all disappear eventually--so why bother? I suffocated myself in the sadness and became stuck. A friend encouraged me to look around and see the joy evident in my life. Moment by moment, I did this. Slowly, every little thing about my day became meaningful.


When I found myself feeling hopeless in front of a patient, it pointed me to the fact that I am not the answer to anyone’s needs, and only Christ can answer me in my need. When I found myself overjoyed at becoming a new grandmother, I was humbled with gratitude for the One who made my granddaughter. Every moment I encountered the possibility of recognizing how Christ was moving me or loving me. I grew to understand that I needed people to have this happen to me.


For example, I was walking by a hospital room of a very confused patient. Everyone was avoiding her, but I went in, very disgruntled, to answer her call light. She kept saying that she wanted to go home. I froze. It reminded me of my mom right before she died. I walked over to her, sat next to her, and held her hand. I started to silently weep as I held her hand and listened to her repeatedly saying she wanted to go home.


For a moment, I was consumed by the love of both my mother and Christ. I was so sad and joyful at the same time. Sad, because I miss my mom. Joyful because I knew I was exactly where Christ wanted me to be. I was fully living what he gave me. There was no thought of how I should be more professional or how to talk her down. I simply lived it. I was so thankful to be there, with her in her longing, feeling my mother’s love, and Christ’s sweet embrace. This showed me, yet again, how Christ, in reality, never fails me. The faces continuously change but He remains, nudging me to stay awake to see Him. It makes me ache at the beauty of it all.


I recognize now what it means to be truly free. In my darkest, most desperate moments, Christ answered my call. He held me as I suffocated on my aloneness and revealed to me my unquenchable need for Him. I still want what I want but I don’t imprison myself in striving too hard for the perfect outcome. I simply live with my heart open, searching and expectantly waiting for Him in the minutia of my day. I know He will meet me in my need, and it will be painfully beautiful.


Melissa, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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