Faith. I have always had faith. As long as I can remember I have had faith. Faith in myself, faith in my family, faith in the innate goodness of people, and faith in God. I was deeply involved in a youth group that taught a belief in a higher being and the basic truths of the bible. Big lessons were faith, hope and charity. I was raised to have faith.
My four and a half year old daughter asked me how do we know God is real? I explained to her that we just have to have faith, or to believe and trust in our hearts that he is real. I asked her how did we know that air is real? Because we have faith that it is. How do we know that love is real? Can you touch it, taste it, or see it? No, we have to believe, or have faith that it is real. Even four year olds grasp the concept of faith.
My mother was a great believer in faith, hope and charity as well. She loved her God, and was a very religious person. We went to church when I was little, and then stopped going faithfully because of the commercialization and monetization of big religion. Religion sells. I was raised in a very faith filled, religious home. My mother would give addresses to every local chapter of her state, when she paid her official required yearly visit as part of her duties of her being the state president of a particular social service organization. People started to call her talks, "Carla's Sermons." She was that devout, and loved her God with all her heart and soul. She was one of those rare speakers, that God's message touched everyone when she spoke. Often there were no dry eyes in the house. She shone with the love for her God. She grew up in church. She did not attend church regularly in her latter years, she did not feel it necessary to put on her Sunday best to impress people with their hearts in the wrong place, and she did not feel it necessary to put in her twenty bucks every Sunday, for her to feel like a 'good Christian.' She was full of love, and fellowshipped regularly with others to celebrate God.
My grandmother taught me when I was little, after I learned to pray, that you did not have to just say your prayers at night. She taught me to pray all throughout the day. She taught me that when you believe in God, that he listens to the prayers of his children all of the time, not just at bedtime. She taught me that he is always there for us. She taught me to thank him for all of our blessings, not to just pray in our troubling times. They both taught me that God has a master plan, and prayers are not always answered. Sometimes I thank God for that. Sometimes I just have to have faith that he knows best, and trust in him.
I was lucky, I had two great teachers in faith and prayer. A favorite prayer of both of theirs, was Footprints In The Sand. I was tested when my mother became very ill. She was very, very sick for a long time. I prayed multiple times everyday to help her get better. She had to endure forty plus hospitalizations. It was very hard to watch her endure, what turned out to be her lot in life, her bad health. I prayed more than I ever thought possible. I prayed before, during, and after every surgery, every hospital, every infection, every amputation, every time her kidneys almost shut down, and when they did. I prayed every time there was a new condition, illness, infection, disorder, disease, bacteria, and slowly but surely watched her health deteriorate over time. Praying for my sweet momma, became a more important part of my daily things to do list, than going to the bathroom. I prayed that my work would let me take long lunches to go and be with my momma. I prayed for her to get better. I prayed for God to help her not be so depressed about her health, and to keep her spirits up. I prayed for her to not be one of the unfortunate ones that MRSA claimed as a victim. I prayed for no more strokes after the first twelve. I prayed for more time with my mommy, I prayed for my daughter to have more time with her gran-gran, I prayed and prayed and prayed. No more heart surgeries, strokes, polymyalgia rheumatic, diabetes, thyroid, sepsis, bladder infections, uti's, toe infections, leg infections, fungal, streptococcus, no more blood transfusions, no more surgeries, no more whacking off her dead black toes, no more debridement needed, no more equipment to suck puss out of her feet and legs, no more unbearable pain from the diabetic neuropathy, no more kidney infections and reduced function, no dialysis, no more going blind from diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. I prayed for her to have to bear no more, or for at least God to help her bear her load. My mother suffered so much here on this earth, in her poor little sick body, that when the time came, I prayed for her suffering to end. She was the strongest person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She bore her health with a smile. And then I selfishly prayed for her not to die. I cried and prayed for God not to take her. I prayed to take back what I prayed for. Yes, sometimes God doesn't answer all the prayers of his children.
I prayed when I left the hospital on the night that was to be her last, for God to help her. I prayed for God to help me. I cannot help but remembering thinking after all the hubbub died down, of all the things you go through when a person dies, that she had raised me to be as strong as she was. She had taught me to be strong, have faith and depend on God. She had spent her entire life preparing me for the moment she was no longer on this earth to take care of me. Then later that night, after I finished dinner with my husband and three year old at the time, I got the call. Less than two hours after I left the hospital. Her heart had stopped again. That this was probably the end. I had been there with her for two days, and the infection ravaging her poor little body had gotten worse and worse, to the point that she crashed after an x-ray. As I watched the countless medical personnel manually pump her heart for over an hour, upon returning to her bedside, I felt a quiet, cool, calming peace come over me. I had to be the one to make the call. In my morbid fascination in anything and everything medical, growing up with two parents in the medical field, I had to witness every single second with her. I had to be there. I had to touch her, hold her hand after we made the call.
She was there and held me when I came into this world, and I had to be there, holding her hand, when she slipped out of it. I had to make my father and brother come in to say their last goodbyes to her. I was poised on the edge of a precipice I did not want to cross, but yet I pressed on. I had to be the strong one. I am my mother's daughter. I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming sense of emptiness and pain that is incomprehensible to anyone who has not lost a parent. I have lost grandparents, and it is nowhere close to the pain I felt and still feel over losing my best friend in life, my mother. I truly believe there was a presence there that night flooding me with peace, to enable me to be the strong one. I have only my faith to tell me it was real, but I know it as surely as I know my own name. I believe that God was there for me after my beloved momma passed away. I believe he was watching over me on my drive home alone, while I was bawling my eyes out, and was having trouble seeing the lines on the road in the horrible rain storm. I believe that he helped me pick the best husband in the world, that would one day be able to give me what I needed while processing this life changing event. I believe that he helped me find the right words to tell my precious three year old, that her granny had went to be with Jesus in heaven. I believe that God helped me through losing my mother, just like I asked him to. I believe, like the line in Footprints In The Sand goes, that it was then that he carried me. I believe he answered my prayers, because I could not have gotten through it alone.
I couldn't have gotten through the death of my Momma without my faith, and belief in God. I fully believe in the power of prayer. I believe that sometimes, maybe just maybe, God sends you signs when you need them the most. I believe that God answers prayers, and that sometimes when he doesn't, that we just have to trust that there is a bigger plan.