“She passed about 20 minutes ago, sweetie,” my dad whispered gently. I was standing in the dimly lit hallway of my mom’s nursing home, holding my squirmy two-year-old. The air left my lungs. I had been traveling for the last nine hours, wrestling my kiddo through two airports and flying over four states to say goodbye to my mom. And I hadn’t made it.
“She held on as long as she could,” my dad explained. I didn’t hear the rest—someone took my toddler and I ran into her room, sobbing. “I’m so sorry, mama,” I said to her lifeless frame. “I’m so sorry I didn’t make it. I tried so hard, mama. I tried so hard.”
Diagnosed with an awful disease decades earlier, my mom refused to let that stop her. She knew each day was a chance to walk more closely with Jesus. She treasured His Word and loved introducing others to her Savior.
Hers was an awful race; a grueling one. But she ran it with such grace.
We knew the day would come when her body would say enough and the God she loved with all her heart would call her home. But nothing could have prepared me for this moment.
She was gone and I was left behind.
I put my sweet boy to bed at my grandma’s that night and left the house to try to breathe again. I found myself wandering the aisles of Target, tears streaming down my face. The world around me was a blur, everything muffled and dim.
You see, the disease that claimed my mama’s life is hereditary. I, too, carry the gene for it. For years, I had watched as it slowly took over her abilities. To cope, I simply lived in denial - refusing to think about my own future. But there was no denying what had just happened. No pretending that might not be my own road.
I was suddenly grieving not only the loss of my mama, but also what might lie ahead for me.
There are moments in life when everything changes in an instant. You look up, and suddenly nothing is the same. This was one of them.
The words of my favorite hymn came to mind:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“Can I say that, Lord?” I asked Him. “Is it well?”
Honestly, in the moment, I wasn’t sure. But, in the weeks that followed, I began a process of holding my faith to the light and re-examining it. Less of a frantic search for truth, this was more of a testing of what I already knew and believed. Did the rubber hit the road in real life? Did it still hold true after what had happened?
I dug deep into Scripture and came across verses I had marked years ago:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure,” (Hebrews 6:19).
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we possess, for he who promised is faithful,” (Hebrews 10:23).
Again and again God met me with these reminders during quiet times in those dark, early hours of my days, filling my soul anew with the truth that He is faithful and He is my hope.
Fair warning though, it hasn’t been a linear process—not much is when it comes to matters of the soul. I still have days where I wonder if He’ll really come through. I still ask Him those hard questions. I still sit on my kitchen floor and cry when the ache from missing my mom feels too great to bear.
But, it’s been a year since she passed, and my sweet Savior has replaced my fear of the future with the sweetest trust in Him—only by His incredible grace. What a privilege to walk with Him so closely, to need Him every hour the way that I do. What a gift to have seen my mom’s journey and to know that, no matter what lies ahead, He will walk this road with me
There is a peace I’ve come to know, friends. And though my heart and flesh may fail, there is an anchor for my soul. I can say, “It is well.”
Does your faith need to be held up to the light and re-tested? Dig in deep. Ask those hard questions. Don’t let pain be an excuse to turn your back on the only One who can carry you through it.
What scares you about the future? How would you live each day differently knowing God will give you what you need no matter what lies ahead? Walk in that freedom. It’s yours—He has already given it to you.
We have this anchor for our souls, friends, and He is firm and secure.
About Shannon Linton
Shannon is a California native who traded the palm trees and crowds for the quiet country life outside Fort Worth, Texas, and couldn’t be happier. An editor by day, she loves all things grammar and always has a stack of history books on her nightstand. She’s a mama to two by adoption, wife to her college sweetheart, and is continually amazed the beautiful story her sweet Savior is writing for her life. She’s also a firm believer that life is better done together and continually looks for ways to build and deepen community. Her soul comes alive when spearfishing, hiking, writing, or enjoying giant mugs of green tea.