Sunday, April 10, 2016


sucker-punch [suhk-er-puhnch] 

verb (used with object), Slang.
1. to strike (someone) with an unexpected blow.

Yesterday, I was suckerpunched. 

Now, before you get concerned about whether I had any physical injury, this was a suckpunch to my heart that I was not expecting. That is the definition of a suckerpunch. It was WHAT suckerpunched me that really took me by surprise. 

These last several weeks since my mom passed have been very busy and occupied for me. What with church events that consumed two weekends in March, followed by Palm Sunday, then Easter, then commitments I had as a board member of a choir, I really had very little time to think or dwell upon my mom's service, and had been rather stoic during the whole time. Not really by choice, but out of necessity. And as we all gathered yesterday for the service, I was there greeting long-loved and familiar faces, grateful for their attendance. I felt in control of both myself, and the event as well.

Then, we sang a hymn. 

And I lost it. 

I was suckerpunched. 

By a hymn. 

But not just ANY hymn. In my mind and heart, it was HER hymn - it was mom's. And as I stood there, I found that I could not sing. The tune was there, but I could not sing. The words were printed on the page, but I could not sing. I tried to fight back my tears. My daughter, standing to my left, kept looking at me. I'm sure, for her, to see her dad NOT singing a hymn, was a curious thing. Her concern was evident. My voice, which had been raised before on this hymn without any real emotion, betrayed me, and my heart fell. All the strength I have tried to be for myself, my brothers, and my kids, left me in those moments. And the memories, the sweet memories, associated with THAT hymn, flooded me, and I could not bear the weight of those on my shoulders. I fought to compose myself, and barely sang the refrain after the final verse. My eyes were damp with the tears I had fought to keep in control. When it finished, we sat down.

Then my oldest brother, Donald, spoke. For him, THAT hymn suckerpunched him too. I had always thought mom had sung those hymns of hers only to me - that I was the singular recipient of something so special. But she had done that for Donald as well. And I felt that wonderful love that she had for all her three sons, that she had done the same thing (at least for Donald and I), yet made it SEEM unique to us individually. As Donald began to softly weep as he spoke, I again lost it. I was suckerpunched again. Then my brother Jim spoke. He remained composed until the very end, and he began to weep gently. Then I had to speak. 

I had given ample thought of what I was going to say at my mom's service for the last few years. I was going to speak of her devotion, to friends, family and to God. But yesterday, I deviated slightly from what I was originally going to say, and shared about the hymns. I shared about treasured hymnal that was my grandmother's, and was dated 1939. And again, I got suckerpunched. I got through my prepared remarks with great difficulty, and left out some of the details that I had practiced. But the context was there. And as I returned to my seat, on the borderline of weeping, there was my sweet daughter, with a hug. 

Perhaps it was simply being in a place of love, and the shared love of a mother who had nurtured and encouraged us. Perhaps it was being in a place where we had so many friends and family there to offer comfort. But as I write this today, I still feel the effect of that suckerpunch. But I am at least relieved to know it was delivered out of the love that I felt for my mom. And I can be at peace in that.

Soli deo Gloria