The Story I’ve Never Shared With Anyone Before

Isaiah 432

I wore Jesus like a favorite sweater—worn out, broken in, and comfy. Growing up in a Christian home, trusting Jesus as my Savior as a youth, and being raised in church all my life made it easy to have a comfortable, old faith, but I liked it that way. Life was easy with my doting parents, two siblings, and equally innocent friends. My faith was never challenged in a life-altering way and I was content in my relaxed, safe environment; I cherished my innocence and youth.

It wasn’t until years later, as a mom of six, when I received an earth-shattering phone call that a terrible tragedy occurred and life as I knew it would never be the same. My phone rang and I dug it out of my purse as I waited in line at the Maidenform outlet store. We were on the way to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday at Longhorn and I needed one last-minute item to finish off my outfit. My dad’s name flashed across the screen and I stuffed the phone back in my purse. I’d tried calling him several times that day and knew he was finally getting around to calling me back. More ringing and buzzing. Dad again. He was just going to have to wait until I left the store before I called him back. Another ring. This time he sent a text and as the words registered, I froze. My heart stopped beating and I couldn’t find a breath. Mom had a heart attack.

I fumbled with my phone to call him back. My purse fell over, spilling the contents across the checkout counter. My hands shook as my dad answered and I demanded, “Dad! What is this? A sick joke?!?!”

His choked reply confirmed my worst nightmares. It was no joke. In a strangled voice, he managed to tell me my mom indeed had a heart attack and rescue was on the way. She wasn’t responsive but he was giving her CPR until the ambulance arrived. Through my shock, I assured him everything would be fine. We would run home, grab some clothes and be there in the next 7 hours, which was the fastest we could go.

Never in a million years did I think it wouldn’t be okay. After all, I served a loving God who allowed me to live an easy life so far and I’d prayed my mom would be fine so I knew she would be. We have a family history of heart disease but I had faith in the first responders and doctors to intervene on my mom’s behalf to restore her health. Besides, I’d talked to her several times that day, including 30 minutes before my dad called and she was just fine.

But everything wasn’t fine. Before we could leave for Georgia, my phone rang several times but I was anxiously awaiting some encouraging news from my dad so I ignored them. Dad finally called and gave me the worst news of my life. She didn’t make it.

My heart was shattered into a million pieces. My very best friend in the entire world, the one I spoke to every single day, the one who encouraged me and was my biggest fan, was gone. I never got to say goodbye; I never even got a warning that she’d be gone so soon.

This was my first experience with the death of a parent and I learned so many things over the next few days.

I learned the stench of death and decay literally clings to you and must be washed off to remove it, much like cigarette smoke. I commented on the smell but it wasn’t until my uncle pointed out that I’d hugged my mom one last time that I realized the awful smell was actually death.

I learned there are no beautiful blue urns in which to place my mom’s ashes, only drab gray or black, the colors of death itself.

I learned if you ask to have your mom’s clothes back after the open-casket funeral, then she must be cremated naked and I couldn’t bear for her to lose her dignity that way.

Throughout the next several days, I wandered through my parents’ home in a fog, opening doors and looking for my mom, hoping this was all an awful dream and I would wake up. My sister and I hid from all the visitors upstairs, clinging to each other, weeping for our very best friend, while my dad and brother put on a brave front for everyone. Nothing would ever be the same again.

In retrospect, it’s amazing how detailed God is, taking what I thought was a surprise and turning it into my saving grace. The twins were an unexpected blessing, but I experienced severe anxiety the entire pregnancy wondering how I would survive with twin boys! I already had two boys and I knew how energetic and curious they were.

God could’ve given us just one surprise baby and I would’ve prepared bottles and handed him off to someone else and crawled under a rock to die. But I had two babies, both nursing, both completely dependent on me and during those days, they only wanted me. Clutching them tightly to my chest, rocking them, breathing in their sweet baby scent was bittersweet. They were gifts from God, but gifts their Gaga wouldn’t ever be able to hold again on this side of eternity.

During the days following the funeral and memorial service, everyone else went back to life as usual and I sat on the porch swing in a daze, knees clutched to my chest, rocking, weeping. I didn’t know if I should be angry my mom’s life was suddenly taken or thankful it was suddenly taken without any suffering. My shallow, innocent faith allowed me to believe God would surely heal my mom but He didn’t and I wasn’t prepared for the heart-wrenching pain I felt.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

As the months passed, I felt the hundreds of prayers from friends and family lifting me up, breathing life into me. Out of the deep, dark pit of despair, God set my feet on solid ground and gave me reasons to live. My faith, which had been so comfortable was suddenly uncomfortable and painful.

Late at night, when the house was sleeping, I crept out to the living room, flicked on the lamp, and curled up on the couch with my Bible in my lap, soaking up God’s words. One of my greatest comforts was knowing God saved my tears in a bottle to one day wipe away. My Bible was full of tear-stained pages as I read verse after verse of God’s promises never to leave me or forsake me. I was brokenhearted, drowning in pain and despair, my heart and flesh failing, but He never left me. He comforted me with a peaceful yet passionate love and I knew His heart was broken with me.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Romans 15:13

I was shaken, my faith tested beyond belief, but rather than running, I clung to God, crying out to Him. Every hour of my darkest days, He gave me a perfect peace, comfort, and a ton of love. He transformed my heart, deepened my faith and drew me nearer to Him.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

We never know what or who God will use to draw us nearer to Him and while I still miss my mom every single day, I have this promise that I’ll be reunited with her one day in Heaven because she had a personal relationship with Jesus and so do I. I know this world is not my home and I’m grateful for my new, uncomfortable, unshakeable faith where God calls me to do things out of my comfort zone to point people to Him. If you’ve never had a relationship with Jesus before, it’s my heart’s longing, dear friend, that you do. Fall into His grace. Surrender yourself to Him. Walk in a peace and freedom nothing else in this world can provide. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s God who is always faithful, always there, and loves me beyond measure. This same God loves you to pieces so trust Him today with your life, your future, and your calling.

 

Scripture References: Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 34:18, 147:3, 130:1, 121:1, 40:2, 73:26; 2 Corinthians 4:8

9 comments

  1. kimjonesfive says:

    I adore your heart and faith sweet friend. My best friend’s dad died this weekend…of a sudden heart attack. I find no coincidence in your post’s timing. It gives me hope her heart will indeed heal. So very sorry and sad for both of your losses. He indeed loves us so. Blessings friend.

    • Amanda Wells says:

      Kim, I’m so sorry for your best friend’s loss. I understand how she’s feeling and I will be praying for her! I can’t read your comment without crying, just knowing I fought the Holy Spirit prompting me to share this and the response was overwhelming. There are so many hurting people and I just hope this ministers to them. Thank you for sharing about your friend.?

  2. Carla King says:

    (HUGS) It’s not any easier when you know it’s coming. I still remember the exact moment I realized something was wrong. :/ Great testimony of God’s faithfulness and love. Thanks for sharing.

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