On Aug. 27, 2014 I received an emergency call from my brother. He sounded worried and I knew something bad had happened. Though I had already started my fall classes that day, I bought a ticket, left Union College, and flew back home to El Salvador.

My mom had been sent to the intensive care unit after getting a bacterium in her arm, causing pneumonia. She had been diagnosed with kidney failure a couple of days before, but her situation was getting better and she was supposed to be back home the day before I received the phone call. In a matter of two days she switched from being almost released to critical condition.

When my brother picked me up at the airport, he took me to the hospital where I got to see my mom for five minutes before visiting hours were over. I felt like it was a movie, surreal and dreamlike.

The hospital had this cold and depressing atmosphere. I had to cover my whole body with a robe and wear a facemask. Mom was conscious and noticed I came in. Barely able to talk, she whispered, “I know your dad doesn’t like having me here. He feels worried.”

I replied, “I’m here now and I will help him get through it.” Time went by so quickly. I kissed her hand and said, “Goodnight, Mom. I love you,” and then I was asked to leave the room.

Roller coaster ride

The next morning, while Dad was praying, I answered the phone. Mom had gone into respiratory arrest. I felt trapped. I wanted to do something to save her. The ICU lobby was filled with people who loved her. Mom loved deeply; she was humble and kind. She dedicated her life to her family. Why her now?

The three times we had a group prayer for her that day. The doctor kept interrupting to give us updates. First he told us there was nothing to do, then gave us hope again. It felt as if the doctor was trying to play with our emotions. I couldn’t take it anymore. After crying three times thinking she was dead, one by one, we went in to say goodbye to Mom. When it was my turn, my eyes swept over her still body, her face pale with tubes and machines sticking into her forcing heartbeats. I will see you again, Mom, I promised. This was the hardest moment I’ve ever lived.

We hadn’t eaten all day, and as our relatives urged us to go to the hospital’s cafeteria the doctor called us to attend Mom’s last minutes. I didn’t want to have that in my memory. I decided to wait outside while my brother and dad witnessed her last respiratory arrest.

Dad came out and moaned, “She died.”

My mom is gone!

My brother, my dad and I hugged each other and cried repeating, “We have each other, and we need to get through this like she would’ve wanted us to.”

Everything happened so fast. We questioned why God would let that happen to us when we prayed so much about it, when so many people were supporting and sending their prayers. How could He not hear us? We felt betrayed by God. Where was the power of prayer when we needed it?

Not of this world

When we face hard times, some of us tend to blame God. I was no exception. I knew I wasn’t being fair, but my pain was blocking my ability to think. My mom was a wonderful woman who devoted her life to Christ. I even used to joke with her, “I don’t think you are from this world.” So why did this happen to her?

Looking at the devastating situations happening around the people she loved would make her extremely sad. She didn’t think she was strong enough to face them. “I don’t think I would be able to handle seeing my siblings or anyone from my family pass away. It would kill me,” she often said. A couple of months after Mom’s death, her brother passed away as well.

Losing a loved one isn’t something you can get over, it’s something you learn how to live with.

God was with my mom; I try to understand it now. Out of 15 siblings, Mom was the first one to leave us. Her death seems unfair, but God gave her the blessing of not seeing her loved ones die. He knew what she could handle.

I don’t have an exact answer for why it happened, but I believe firmly that God saw her pain and kept her from suffering. I saw her at that hospital, noticed the pain coming through her frail body and forlorn face. I thank God because He answered our prayers quickly, maybe not the way we wanted, but He knew what was best for her.

Strength for the journey

Just a few months before she passed, we were able to have a last vacation together. I hadn’t seen her for a while. She visited Nebraska for the first time. The look in her eyes was pure happiness for what I had achieved.

“We prayed so much for this,” she told me. “I have peace in my heart because I know you are OK.”

God prepared the way before He called her to rest. When she got sick, I was able to get on the plane and arrived just in time to talk to her, and be the last person who had the blessing to see her awake before God stopped her pain. God had a plan for her life. As Rom. 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I am not the only one experiencing grief, and as hard as accepting God’s will may be when facing difficulties, He has control. Sooner or later we will understand why things happen the way they do. When I think about my mom, I believe she won—finished her battle and rests in Christ. We who are still in this world have to continue the journey and overcome difficulties while accepting God’s grace.

Losing Mom taught me a lesson I want to share. As Paul said in Phil. 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Yary Jimenez writes from Lincoln, Nebraska, where she is studying communications/public relations at Union College.

Photo Credit: Yary snapped this picture of her mother Lelis Jimenez’ portrait at her Aunt Lucy Guardado’s home in Omaha, Nebraska.