I had a teacher in middle school who once told our class, “There are two times I think it’s okay to wear a tie: first to get married, second to get buried.”
For some reason those words always stuck with me, though I’d never really considered the parallels in those two events.
Until this week.
My mother is breathing her last breaths in this life and my family and I are preparing for what’s next. How do we go on? Will holidays ever not be heartbreaking? Honest-to-goodness, will anyone ever get a full plate at Thanksgiving? My mom has always been such a servant, I’m not sure any of us know how to serve ourselves—she simply wouldn’t let us.
More immediately, we have a service to plan. Nothing really prepares you for that. I feel like I’m more experienced with funerals than a lot of 30-year-olds because I’ve ran media for more about 50 of them, but I’m at a loss.
Last night, we began to reminisce about songs my mom loved. Many of them were sweet love songs from the bubblegum era: songs like “I Think I Love You” by David Cassidy and other hits from that era. More recently, she loved pre-snake Taylor Swift (I tried my best to protect her from the craziness of post-country TayTay). One of her favorite songs that she would listen to on repeat was Taylor’s “Love Story.”
My mom loves love. She loves fairytale endings where the Princess gets to be with Prince Charming and they all live happily ever after.
I’ll never forget how she beamed when I told her I loved Hailee and that Hailee loved me. She lit up when I told her we wanted to get married. She knew that love was so fulfilling and was overjoyed that I had found it in someone. It filled her heart with joy to know that I was loved.
More than that, I know how she cherished the greatest love story of all.
You see, for us it looks like we’re about to be planning a funeral. But the Bible tells us that in heaven it’s going to look a whole lot like a wedding.
My mom loved Jesus. Some of her last lucid words in this life were to tell my dad in a sweet twilight moment that she was going to be with Jesus. When the Bible talks of this reunion, it paints the picture of a wedding. A bride, eager with anticipation and separated from her Groom for far too long waits to meet her King. The Groom longs to great us as Redeemer and friend.
Because my mom knew Jesus, I can find reasons to rejoice in this moment. She is a beautiful bride, eager to fall into the arms of the Savior, clothed in “fine linen, bright and pure”.
A song comes to mind that tells this story well. I’ve never been able to listen to it all the way through without getting emotional, and I suspect I never will again.
We will miss my mom this side of heaven, but though we have a funeral to plan here—there’s a wedding ceremony going on in heaven. And my mom is the beautiful bride—without pain, without sorrow, and without tears.
I love you, mom.