I still remember when I first understood what it meant to be dead. I had been sitting on the edge of my parents’ bed, crying my heart out. When my mom came over to ask what was wrong, I told her that I didn’t want her to die. She reprimanded me for being foolish – as a Japanese mother would – and then said that it wasn’t going to happen for a very long time.
Sitting on the edge of that bed was like sitting on the edge of a dark, bottomless ravine. I was terrified by the prospect of a world in which my mom would no longer be a part.
But I believed her, that death wouldn’t come until some nebulous point in the future. So I got up and moved on. Still, it remained my greatest fear – until about a month before she died.
My world imploded when my brother called to tell me she had cancer. I even knew she was sick before he said it. On instinct, I had braced myself for the worst possible thing I could imagine. I was right.
Like a good daughter, I spent the next year and a half trying to save her life. After her cancer recurred, I stopped. I asked her if she even wanted the chemotherapy that everyone else considered obvious. She had never heard about hospice, and was so grateful that I told her about it.
In hindsight, I consider it a small miracle. My prayer changed from one for life to one for death. Instead of begging for healing, I got on my knees and asked God for hospice admission. When that came, I prayed for my mother’s swift and comfortable passing.
In his eulogy at Whitney Houston’s funeral in February 2012, Pastor Marvin Winans rephrased something that Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount. He said that people don’t need to worry about the things we spend a lot of time worrying about.
Then Winans rephrased God’s way of saying the same thing: “I got chew!”
In other words, God’s “got you.” God’s got you covered. We’re covered.
When I look back to my changed prayer, I get it. God does not promise that we’re covered in the way that we would like to be. Our worst fears will sometimes be realized. We will lose our mothers, and some of our children will become motherless. Some of our husbands will lose their wives.
When God says, “I got you,” some of these things will still happen, even though we believe and trust in him.
But God finds a way for us to accept it. “I got you” means that we will be blessed with a new prayer. It means that we will be fine, our kids will be fine, and our husbands will be fine. It means that we will have peace, because we have asked God to be a part of it.
This is pretty impossible to imagine. It’s still the dark, bottomless ravine. The prayer remains unchanged. “Please preserve us. Please don’t let this happen to me.”
Jesus asked for the same thing: “Take this cup from me.” It’s human to want to live. It’s also human to fear and worry.
We will not, however, be better off for our fear and worry.
We will be better off if we begin to accept, now, that God will get us through the worst, later.
He’s got chew.
© 2012 Anastasia Hacopian