Along with the scream that we carry in our hearts, there is an anguish that echoes through almost every story of child loss that I’ve heard. It’s the pain of the last time we saw them and what we did or didn’t do. If only we had known!

When there’s no more boy to hug, you wish you would have hugged more. When there’s no more boy to love, you wish you would have loved more. When there’s no more boy to hold, you wish you would have held on and never let go. But we didn’t know it was the last time we’d see them. We didn’t know!  And if we did know, could we have endured it?

I was reading in Mark’s gospel about one of Jesus’s last days when one line stood out to me like it was on fire.

 But you will not always have me.

Jesus is spending one last night with his dear friends. In the recent past, He has told them over and over about his impending death. He’s even told them in great detail, but none of them had ears to hear. Except one person. Mary, Lazarus’ sister. The Mary that sat at his feet and hung on His every word. She believed Him. She got it. He was going to die and she couldn’t stop it. She couldn’t prevent it, but Jesus is very specific in saying what she could do–

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 

John MacArthur describes it in more detail:

We know very little about this, this unrestrained adoration, where you just crush the narrow neck of that alabaster bottle and pour its contents all over Jesus effusively, profusely. She was pouring out her love, her heart of compassion, her devotion. She was honoring the One that was going to die and rise again for her salvation, to bear her sin. She did it for you, for me; we all should have done it. We all – if we’d have been there, knowing what we now know, would have poured out everything on Him, too. She understood what the disciples didn’t want to understand…She apparently understood more of Jesus’ teaching then they did. She symbolizes the effusive, profuse, magnanimous outpouring of love that God desires.

We were not given the foreknowledge of our child’s impending death. We didn’t even know to treat them any differently on their last day here. But as their mothers, we did a very important thing. We did what God asks of mothers, to love them. We did what we could.

God placed them under our care, our care. He placed them in their birth order, He placed them with the number of siblings they had or didn’t have. He gave us a mother’s heart that longed to love, guide, train, care, rejoice in, cry with, encourage, bless,  and die for if we could. All of these things we did as mothers. And while we didn’t spend the last time we saw them in a meaningful way, we can consider the whole of our time with them.

The sum of our life with our child was like the pouring out of a costly perfume upon their lives. We anointed them with everything we had until not a drop was left because God broke the bottle and there was nothing more we could give. And for me, at least, part of my mourning is that my job has been accomplished. My stewardship has ended. And it goes against everything in me to let go.

God used us until their dying breath and now they are in His tender care. Our bottles are broken, our hearts are broken. Our anointing of their lives has been exhausted. But, we did what we could and our extravagant love is a beautiful thing in God’s eyes and exactly that for which He prepared us.  That extravagant love is so important that God says this about it:

And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.

Mary’s extravagant love is recorded for all to see. Our extravagant love is recorded in our hearts and in the annals of heaven. Our children knew it, God knew it. And when we are united again, it will whirl around us all mixed up with the love He poured out for us and gave us in the first place. We’ll bathe in it forever and ever.

Dear God, how I wish I would have known it was the last time I’d look in his eyes alive. But then again, I couldn’t have stood it. Thank you for protecting me from that. I wish I could see those eyes again. The bluest of blue that you mixed in a palette for my Tristan.  They are reflecting Your glory right now that outshines the sun. Help me to wait well, and serve well until I see him again. Save me from myself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verses from Mark 14, Sermon, “Preparing for Christ’s Death” #2381.