We gathered around her bed, watching her shallow breathing. We waited. Mother, 84 years old, had awakened with blood pouring from her mouth. My sister, her caregiver, was unsure. Had she seizured and bitten her tongue; or was she hemorrhaging? She called Hospice. Then she made a series of phone calls to family members to let them know the latest in our 40 month saga as our mother slowly crawled toward death.
As strange as it may seem, in the annals of my life, I will record those five days spent at the foot of mother’s bed with my feet propped on the railing, one of the most joyful times in my life. Two daughters, a daughter-in-law, three granddaughters, two great granddaughters and several children kept the vigil. We slept little as our saintly mother labored to breath. The shallow whisps of air would wane and then strengthen. We laughed and cried.
We ate junk food; then we laughed and cried. We talked to distant relatives on the phone; and with them we laughed and cried. We ate delicious meals catered from restaurants owned by grandchildren. When the meals arrived, we received the embraces of the new arrivals; and we laughed and cried. We threw together meals to keep us from eating one more chocolate Easter egg. Sharing our meals on tables piled with insurance forms and medical equipment, we laughed and cried.
At 3AM, the children taking the early morning shift at her bedside, stiffled giggles of exhaustion. Each one of us crawled in the bed with her for a moment, just to feel her breathe on our faces one last time. Just to touch her again before she left us for her heavenly home. While we cried often, it was a strange mixture of joyful remembering and pain of separation that brought the tears. We knew her faith. We rejoiced in her destination, not her departure.
As Jesus and his disciples gathered for their last meal together, Jesus expresses joy. How can that be? Tomorrow he would face death, a terribly painful death of torture and shame. Could joy really fill the room of thirteen men who had walked, listened, ate, laughed and cried together? Oh, yes. They laughed and they cried. The imminent anguish the Lord faced was put aside for this last joyful meal together.
Then Jesus prayed a long, stirring prayer. Father, the time has come. Give glory to your Son so that the Son can give glory to you.
Confidence beyond the circumstances poured from the Lord, as he embraced with joy the future of the Church. You gave the Son power over all people so that the Son could give eternal life to all those you gave him.
No misgivings filled this conversation with the Father. And this is eternal life; that people know you, the only true God, and that they know Jesus Christ, the One you sent.
Strength and boldness poured from his inner being, expressing a completion of the task for which he was sent. Having finished the work you gave me to do. I brought you glory on earth.
It was a prayer for the men who sat in the room; but it was also a prayer for you and for me. I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching.
Jesus prayed for me. That night, in the middle of this joyous meal, he remembered me. He prayed that all believers would be one. Jesus prayed that we would abide with him and join him in heaven.
The passover, seder, meal is a meal of remembered redemption and release. At times I stumble. I fail everyone from my Lord to the clerk in the grocery store I see only once a week. But in humility and with confidence, I can return to the place of laughter and tears. From there, I can emerge with new strength and endurance because Jesus prayed for me.
In what ways would you alter your life if you fully understood that Jesus’ prayer was for you? Would this make a difference in the way you relate to other about the Lord?