I never dreamed when I lost Mama that I would gain a sister…
“All I have to say is, we will never be close. She will never be like a real sister to me. She’ll only be Steve’s wife. I will never spend any time with her. I live too far away to ever get to know her as a sister. I just don’t see it happening.”
With finality I closed the door on any type of relationship with my new sister-in-law, Bebe. I was extremely upset and hurt that my brother had left his wife of 30+ years and married this woman that none of us knew.
And then it happened. I got the phone call.
“Ellen, it’s Bebe. Steve and I are at Mom’s. It looks like she’s had a stroke! We’re waiting for the ambulance to take her to the hospital where I work.”
The following two months were a roller coaster ride. On the high side, Mama knew who we were. When we walked into her room, she waved with her good left hand. It looked just like a Miss America wave! On the low side, the stroke had paralyzed her right side and she was unable to speak. In addition to the that, Mama developed pneumonia, and also suffered from congestive heart failure. Some days it seemed like she would be able to recover to an extent, and then days later she would crash.
Many times I had to get updates via text and phone, since I lived four hours away. I traveled to Mississippi as often as I could to be with Mama and my brothers after her stroke. It was a tough balancing act. During this time, I learned to rely on Bebe’s knowledge as a nurse. I knew nothing at all about medical issues. I was clueless. Bebe was patient with me when I asked my usual 10,000 questions. She would explain the medical issues in simple terms that I could understand.
One afternoon, Bebe and I were the only ones in the room with Mama. As Mama slept, I visited with Bebe and had the opportunity to get to know her as more than Steve’s wife or Mama’s best and favorite nurse. It was so very obvious that she loved my Mama as her own.
Days turned into weeks, and finally the doctors admitted they could do nothing else for Mama. They recommended a nursing home with hospice care. Her lungs were not strong enough to fight the effects of the stroke and ever-present pneumonia. But the doctor’s ways were not Bebe’s ways.
“Steve and I will move in with Mom, in her home, and I can take care of her…for however long she has left. She won’t have to go to a nursing home. With everyone’s help, Steve and I can do this.” And so they did.
Two weeks later, Mama was gone. She passed away peacefully, with Bebe and my brother Wayne at her side. In the minutes following Mama’s death, my brothers and I left her bedside to grieve elsewhere and make those hard, necessary phone calls. Not Bebe. She lovingly stayed by Mama and arranged the bedsheets. When I came back inside I noticed those small things: how neat Mama’s bedsheets were; how her pajamas were smooth and tidy; how her hands were delicately placed on the bed.
Bebe lovingly cared for Mama in life; and she lovingly cared for Mama in death. I learned to love her for the way she loved my Mama.
When Bebe first came into my life, I couldn’t see God’s bigger plan. HE knew before the beginning of time that Mama would need Bebe. HE placed Bebe in our lives, just when we would need her most.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)
God’s ways are not my ways. God’s provision is perfect no matter the circumstance. I just had to open my heart, swallow my pride, and receive His gift of a sister.
This will be the third Thanksgiving without Mama. And while I miss her terribly, I am thankful that with the greatest loss I have ever suffered, I gained a sister.
Look around this Thanksgiving. Try to see your life from God’s eternal perspective. His plan is perfect. There is so much He wants to do for you and in you, if you will open your heart to Him!
Sovereign Lord, You are in control of even my most difficult circumstances. You knew me before I was born. You planned every person that has come into my life. You provide for my every need. I thank You! I open my heart to You and all You have planned for me, even if I can’t see it now. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen