One hundred and fifty.
That’s how many chapters we read. Seven hours, two hundred and nine pages, three rounds of meds, and two cups of coffee later, we finished the book of Psalms.
My Bible fell open to Psalm 27 and I started there before supper, by Psalm 67 there was no turning back, except to pick up the first 27 chapters. And at 4:14AM a new day had dawned, birds chirped outside and I quietly closed my leather bound Bible my mother had purchased me a year before with my name in gold cursive on the front and curled up beside her and I kissed her goodnight on the forehead and whispered my love.
At 2AM I had roused her to give her a concoction of meds we had crushed, and I told her we had only 50 chapters remaining. She hadn’t seemed to understand much lately, but to this she uttered, “yay.” And I knew she got it.
I love her so much I can feel it in my bones. And sometimes I just sat draped over her wishing things could go back to as they once were, begging this upside down universe for my best friend back. But I rocked back and propped my feet up alongside hers and cozied up next to her face to keep reading. We weren’t alone, not for one second. Jesus was utterly, very near. He was here with us too and this room was thick with his presence, this ground holy, and sacred on an old oriental rug. And for a whisper of a breath of a moment I felt wholly blessed and beloved to enter in his workspace.
Vowels and consonants came alive, the diction lacing the room as a song, a prayer, and plea and refrain of hope. Oh and all the psalms I wish I could pinpoint and share. But there is only one countless one that refrains and I can remember throughout all five books and 150 chapters, “but the steadfast love of the Lord remains.”
Steadfast we speak these psalms over the hum of the oxygen humidifier, pounding on in a rhythm of didactic and song, filling the space with hope when my human heart deems it impossible, irreparable, and inconceivable. And it is His love that carries us on.
It’s a marathon, this journey. I could never have imagined this marathon of love that would result from those trying times. That the race of endurance we were set on to love my mom as best we could, was a marathon I could never have foreseen the depths of the lows and the peaks of the highs. So long as the syllables linger on, so does our hope. As long as my own lips have breath, so remains my hope and trust in the Lord.
For hours we drone on, I grow tired of my own voice and yet the words fall new as if it’s the first time I have ever heard them. I sit gripped with wonder and wide-eyed with amazement at their truth to my very present reality. They perplex and challenge me, comfort and convict me. Together our spirits march on, I am unsure of if she can even hear me or not, but she does not once lose hold of my grip.
Words ramble together until I reach Psalm 23 and read the story of a Shephard-man and his wayward sheep. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” And here we are. In the valley of the shadow of death, in every sense of the phrase. I catch my breath, and pause, and glance up from the thin, gold-plated pages and survey our study-turned-hospital room with latex gloves and various medical equipment piled in the corners and a hospital bed where her favorite white, linen couch used to be and it’s pitch black outside, even the raccoons are sleeping, the house is eerily quiet except the tick of the grandfather clock in the foyer and my mother’s peaceful breathing. I sit in it. The weight of this moment. And I read it again: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Stuck on this idea of the metaphorical valley our family study room has become, I realize as Christians, life on earth is nothing but a shadow of death, and a doorway to eternal life, which makes me wildly uncomfortable and squirm in my wooden chair. To read such a passage to a faithful, fruitful servant woman nearing the completion of her journey “through” the shadow is perfectly surreal .
A shadow, you see? Only a shadow. Light beams all too brightly and beautifully on an object, and a shadow is created, but before too long, the shadow passes, with the traveling of the light source. The shadow is gone, and darkness itself cannot stay hidden, at the mercy of it’s light source. The shadow passes and whomever was in the shadow is through it, and through with it, and enters fully into light. Darkness itself is created in hiding behind something else that is intercepting the light. A shadow is just a waiting for light. Delicately hemmed in just enough light for each advancing step, we wait with anticipation for the revelation of the light source.
And He is here. And we are here waiting for his light.
We’ve grown to hate cancer in our household, and more than that we’ve grown to hate the phrase “lost her battle with cancer.” Cancer never stood one ounce of a shot at Jan Eberle. He had already won her heart, and it was He who defeated it from the beginning, just as he conquered sin, cancerous in our own hearts, and disease. He already won that illness and cured our hearts purely and beautifully and quite honestly, unfairly for an undeserving shot at eternity with Him. And if you keep score, you just might find that she won too. She won a fight at a life without fear and regret, bitterness or pain. She won with humble praise and a search for glory. She found it. And, she shared it with us. We can’t wait for the light source. Shadows fall behind us now, certainly more lace the steps of our futures; but with our eyes fixed on the light source himself, darkness has nowhere to hide and we bask in the glory that is full, unveiled exposure to his sovereign heart.
I can hardly believe it’s already been a month today. I miss you momma! I can feel your smiles. And I love you to heaven & back again.