One month ago, today, my mama stopped breathing.

And never started up again.

She moved from this world into eternity.

She slipped her mortal coil.

Why are all those phrases easier to say than the actual word?  All those poetic euphemisms to avoid the stark reality. I guess because even thinking the actual word makes me cry.

She moved on. She gained her heavenly reward. She went to be with Jesus.

It happened early in the afternoon of Christmas day. ("It happened"...still avoiding the word.) We're two hours ahead of my family on the West Coast, so we were done unwrapping gifts, done snacking (temporarily), and the kids had even moved their loot into their respective rooms. My husband, Colin, was on his ipad, doing whatever it is that he does on his ipad, and I was sitting in the middle of the mess, reading a beautiful book that a friend had given me, a book full of kindness and wisdom and love. I was feeling sentimental. Cozy. Thankful.

Colin's phone rang. I could tell by his voice that it was family. I expected a, "Yes, she's right here," but instead there came, "Ah. Uh huh. Okay."

Colin hung up and turned to me.

"They're giving your mom CPR." He said it gently. But really, there's no way to gentle those words. No euphemism for breathing air into your mother's congested lungs.

I looked back down at my book, automatically, as if to make sure that the world still looked the same as it had before this monumental shift. But the words before me blurred. The whole room, really, faded away to be replaced with a distorted mind's view of my sister's living room, gifts unopened, children's excitement turned to confusion, my medically-trained sister and brother-in-law doing all they could, my dad...oh, dear, Lord, my dad.

Colin told the kids, who wandered, empty-handed, full-hearted, to sit, awkwardly, in the living room again, wrapping paper still strewn about, stockings unhung by the chimney with care. Somehow I stood, moved to the mudroom for something, I have no idea why, talking of I know not what. Colin joined me, let me finish my words, stepped to me and took me into his arms.

"Your mom's gone," he whispered. "Patrick texted."

Gone. Another euphemism. Another way to gentle the concept that the world as I knew it had ended.

I don't blame Patrick for texting. Words are easier to write than to say. I'm thankful he'd called to give the first news.

It all happened so quickly. Ten minutes? I don't even know. Fast. Gone. Such short words that say so much.

Our son read some Scripture. I made tea, because that's what Mom would have done. We hugged and cried and made more tea. Mom's parents were Scottish, and tea cures all.

Only it couldn't cure this.


This = death.

There. I said it.

I'll say more, later, but for now I leave you with this...

This = hope:

“'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:55-57

No, tea can't cure death.

But that's okay. Because Jesus already did.


Trudy R Henry - January 25th, 2023 at 4:01pm


- January 26th, 2023 at 10:26am

Thank you, Trudy.

Betty McAllister - January 25th, 2023 at 4:05pm

Beautifully said. Blessings to you.

- January 26th, 2023 at 10:26am

Thank you, Betty.

Beth Ann Chiles. - January 26th, 2023 at 5:58am

You have joined the club that none of us want to join. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a mom is so very difficult and hard to explain all the feelings and emotions. You did it beautifully. Now, be gentle with yourself.

- January 26th, 2023 at 10:29am

Thank you, Beth Ann. Yes. Words fail, don't they? And thanks for your parting wisdom. That is encouraging, truly...I've felt a bit like I'm "wasting time"...but I truly need the calm.

Terese Kruse - January 26th, 2023 at 11:32am

Dear Sweet One,

I am so saddened to hear of your mom’s passing! As you so eloquently said, she is now in Heaven, praising our Savior. Because you love her so, you will miss her forever. Even so, Jesus has said that he would always be with us! And He is!

Know that I’m praying that Jesus is putting His loving arms around you and giving you a big hug!

- February 6th, 2023 at 10:36am

Amen and horray! Thank you, friend. I miss you!

Rev. Dr. Daren Flinck - January 26th, 2023 at 12:08pm

Gretchen, Your thougths and words mirror my own experience from almost one year ago when by father passed away (another euphemism). He died alone in the local hospital in my home town. That seems so strange to say knowing that my family is large - ten kids. Surely someone could have been there and would have, had it not been for COVID. But I know in my heart that he wasn't alone. Jesus promised he would come and walk him through the valley of the shadow of death. There is that hope you mention at the end of your blog. May the Lord continue to fill you with hope and peace as you remember and celebrate your mom's life. Somehow, the journey continues...

- February 6th, 2023 at 10:38am

Thank you for this encouragement. Yes! Never alone. And yes, at times it seems how could the world go on, and yet it surely does, and that's a good thing.