My Mom passed away two years ago this week. It was all such a whirlwind that it is still difficult to believe it happened. She flew to California from Louisiana to visit her sister and sister-in-law, but the next day she was in the emergency room instead of having girl time on the beach.
I flew over after she was in the hospital for a couple of days, thinking that we’d get out of there quickly and I could have some fun with her and my Aunt Judy. It got complicated, so my Dad joined us. Six days after I got there, it was suddenly the end. She knew she was dying as she experienced a harsh new pain that drained the life out of her. Amidst chaos in the room when the doctors and nurses responded to code blue, we spoke words of blessing before she was gone.
Mom couldn’t say much because of the pain. But her few words meant a lot because of the life she lived. In fact, because of the life she lived, she didn’t need to say anything at all. But she did.
“I love everybody.”
I know, those final words don’t seem that unusual. But what is unusual is that everybody—that’s everybody that met her—already knew it without her having to say it. It was her theme song, or the thesis statement to her life. That’s the way she lived and loved.
People who knew her probably think, “I bet she was thinking about me when she said that.”
Mom–most people called her Sam–made everyone feel special. She looked people in the eyes, said their names with genuine endearment and gave a hug that would squeeze away any doubt that they were loved. And she tirelessly served them.
She loved her family and friends. She loved people deeply who didn’t feel lovable. She showed up and loved people when they were hit with a crisis. She loved people who sat in the pews and sang with her on Sunday mornings. She loved people from other countries. She loved the poor and she loved the rich.
There was no doubt that Sam loved everybody. Her last words were nothing new because she had been saying them all her life.
I want to live and die like that. I don’t want my last words to be something that my family has longed to hear, or to be a surprising twist in the plot of my life. I want to live in such a way that it doesn’t matter if I get a chance to say those last words because I’ve already been saying them all my life.
And what better thing to say with my life than, “I love everybody.”
I’m thankful for Mom’s last words because it wasn’t the first time she said them. I heard her say it and watched her live it all her life.
This week when I reflect on my Mom, I’m reminded to live now what I would want to say at the end.
What are you saying now with your life?