The Best Gift
"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac"
“Maha…..Maha…O-oooo…O-oooo….” Those were the last words that came out of my mother’s mouth on December 28, 2000. They might not mean anything to someone else, but because I knew my mother well, I knew that she was trying to fight her aphasia so she could utter the words “I love you and yes…yes….” those words spoken in our native dialect.
That was a desperate moment for her, trying to cling to this valuable life that she had known for 69 years. That was a moment when I was also trying to help her win the tug-o’-war, of life against death, as we conversed over the phone. No matter how many worlds apart, we could try. That was a moment when all of the memories we shared together which took many years to be created, flashed back in a matter of only a few, precious remaining seconds. I had a feeling at that time that it was a memory with my mother that was about to end.
My vision was blurry, blinded by the tears that constantly flowed down my cheeks, as I reassured my mother of the possible strength she could still have. At the same time, I was praying and asking God to make her well: for me, for my brothers, for our families, but especially for my dearest father, who loved her so much. Being a Catholic with ardent passion for praising God daily, my mother’s faith was what I needed to combine with mine, so I could ask for a miracle that only God would approve of.
I love to write but at that time, I was at a profound loss for words as I talked [for an imminent last moment] with my mother, whose physical and emotional pain I couldn’t and wouldn’t imagine. I kept telling her “we love you very much”, like a broken record as my voice tried to be in a normal range, despite the choking sensation I had and as I tried to make the big lump in my throat disappear. I spoke about the un-said “thank you’s” that were long overdue. The thank you’s for all the sacrifices she had done to give us, her children, all the good things in life: education, love, faith in God and just for being an understanding, always forgiving and accepting mother to us.
Suddenly, the rest of her words became more incomprehensible as the aphasia affected her more. It must have taken so much strength out of her to convey all of her thoughts and feelings but at the same time, she must be frustrated that nothing came out right from her effort to communicate with me. But that period of misunderstanding was the most understood one - a feeling of love that was mutually shared, even without words, we both felt that. As mother and daughter, that was the best sharing we had in this lifetime. We. Just. Knew.
God, how I prayed…”Dear God, please take away the pain that my mother is feeling. Give her more strength and courage as she tries to fight this stroke that suddenly hit her. The stroke that came like a thief in the night--without warning! The stroke that robs her of her joyous smiles and echoing laugher. The stroke that caused a slurred speech and made her “I love you’s” incomprehensible. She was a very special gift You gave to our family. If living more for her would mean physical suffering and pain, then, give us the courage instead, to have the readiness and acceptance to let her go. To accept her imminent return to You. Even if it would mean losing the best gift given to us, whose lots of lives she touched throughout her lifetime. Dear God, please give her peace and turn our trial for Your glory.”
The best gift in life doesn’t have to be a dream vacation, lots of money, living the good life, and other material things our mortal souls crave for. The best gift in life is love - - the kind that my mother shared and taught us. The best gift was learning to love and to sacrifice for someone you love, being there during the ups and downs of life. It was a pretty gift wrapped with a golden bow. When we, her children, her husband, other loved ones and friends opened that gift, it was full of memories, of triumphs and losses, of laughter and tears, of joys and sorrows, of broken hearts and mended wounds. It was the kind of gift that wouldn’t get lost. It didn’t need an occasion to be worn. It wouldn’t break and just required our hearts for storage. That will always be the BEST GIFT we could treasure forever…..the Lord’s gift of my mother and her love to us….
"29There are many good women, but you are the best!"
30Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away,
but a woman who honors the LORD deserves to be praised" ~ Proverbs 31:29-30 [CEV]
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: Life Application Bible]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].