I remember very clearly in March of 2021 when Sue and I took my mom to see a neurologist and hearing the words of the doctor that she is showing advanced signs of Alzheimers. We weren't surprised, but my mind would race back to 15 years earlier when we heard those same words concerning my father.
Alzheimers has been referred to as "The Long Goodbye" for a number of reasons. As the disease slowly progresses, the personality of a person with the disease is worn away. Their cognitive skills diminish and their bodies decline. Soon the family members become strangers to the individual suffering. My mom would be confused and as time went on making no sense in her conversation to us. She would be angry one day and the next day crying. There would be days of laughing and days of sorrow. In her last days she looked at me and asked me who I was. It is called the Long Goodby because we felt like we lost mom years ago. Every time we would visit and leave, it was like saying goodbye over and over.
My mom went home to be with our Lord yesterday. During this long journey we have been grateful for God's grace and mercy and strength. I think of the prayer of Paul the Apostle in the opening of the Book of Colossians for patience and long-suffering with joy. He has shown us that through this difficult season that He was still with mom and in her heart. At the end of her life when the visits were difficult and trying for us and her; He would remind us that she is still there. She would ramble in her conversation, making no sense except for two things and that was "I'm going to heaven soon" and "I love you very much".
Whether the death of a loved one is sudden or it's watching them suffer for a long period of time, it is a hard journey of grief for those left behind. I'm comforted by knowing that Jesus is "a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). It was our Lord that stood at the tomb of His friend Lazarus weeping, but then would declare, "I'm the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). I'm reminded what Peter would write in the opening of his first epistle, "We have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus." It's not a dead hope.
My mom is done with the agony and suffering of this life. She is with her Lord, my dad, and my brother Alan who died at the age of two many years ago. She is more alive than ever before in heaven not because she was a caring, loving person, but because of her faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. On this Fourth of July weekend we celebrate our freedoms. We are to be reminded of the words of Jesus in John 8:36: "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you are free indeed." I know my mom is free form this disease that has plagued her mind and body for years. I have the hope of seeing her when my Lord takes me home and on that day it will be no longer "The Long Goodbye", but "Hello" again for all eternity.