In an Instant; Saying Goodbye to Mom

Interesting weekend. Spent the better part of Saturday clearing the last bits out of my mom's house. By end of day it was hollow and empty with only our family history lingering in the air. There I stood, alone, listening for perhaps the last time the voices of my past; our children - all eight grandchildren and my mom... Thanksgiving, Christmas day, and the endless stream of birthdays. Laughter and tears, advice and wisdom. Then silence, deafening silence. The walls seemed stained as was the carpet. The wood floors buckled a bit. All utterly empty. In an instant.

I walked from room to room and had a final cry in each, recalling events that took place there. Not unhappy events but rather, some of the most joyous and informative moments of my life. The fact is I adored my mother. I revered her. I love my human body and all of it's miraculous functions, but without my "brain" I know the mechanics of my body wouldn't be possible. That's how I felt about my mom. She was the brain of this magnificent family. The epicenter. She was my link to our past.

And there I was. I stopped in the family room where we spent most of our time... and she was gone. All of it, the physical, gone. In an instant... in an instant... in an instant...

Those words kept ringing through my head well into the night and on into Sunday. How incredible it was, how fast it was all "erased" in an instant. Right about now, I think this coming Wednesday to be exact will be exactly 6 months since I first got word that she wasn't doing well... and in fact the very day I reached out to all of you, asking for your prayers. Within a short three weeks or so later she would be gone. You traveled that journey with me. It was so fast, so incredibly fast given the breadth of her life. She was gone... in an instant... those words... hanging on the Autumn breeze of a lazy Sunday afternoon.

But then purpose spoke to me... and yes that voice I attribute to God, that insight, that wisdom that so closely reflected the kind of words and wisdom my mother would give me in earthly, human terms... "Things can happen and do happen in an instant. Your world can change just like that. All is possible." Wow! Perhaps it's the source of my continued optimism, or my very Faith. All is possible... in an instant.


Over the last few weeks I've gotten into some pretty heated debates with friends and family (wife and sometimes my own kids) about the direction of our country and what the hell is going on. We've wrestled with some of the greater hot button issues - gun control, abortion, gay rights - to the point the "wrestling" has been nothing short of the WWF and if televised could draw equally huge ratings. Yes, screaming, shouting and pounding fists to make our opinions heard. (No one can say we aren't a family that is at least devoted to addressing the most pressing issues facing us today)


Through most of those discussions I pretty much always begin with the stance that no matter what the issue, "resolutions, peaceful or other take time." Something of the "Rome wasn't built in a day attitude." No matter what the issue facing us. (And no, once again I'm not going to discuss my personal views at this time, that's not the point here) but no matter what the issue, you can't just waive a wand and make it all better overnight. One friend says just take guns away... I say that won't change people and the fact is, you can't just "take guns away" overnight even if you wanted to. It takes time. Patience. Education. In short, my point on any of the subjects always began and ended with, "things take time - nothing happens in an instant..."


This past weekend I discovered that perhaps I've been wrong. Because things can happen in an instant. My mother was gone in an instant. Death came to her in an instant. And her "instant" was a long instant. What about those who really do die in "an instant." Sons and daughters, mothers and fathers who walk out the door one day to never come home again... gone in a true instant... Or what about the guy who has worked his whole life, never got very far and then buys a lottery ticket and is rich, "in an instant." Yes, I was wrong, things DO HAPPEN IN AN INSTANT. In fact, I also learned that we can make those things happen in an instant...

You want to loose weight... it only takes an instant to begin. Eat less, exercise more...right this very instant. Change the way you operate, right this very moment.

You want to find love... decide to find love and open your heart and eyes to it... love is all around you.

You want to forgive... decide to forgive and press that mighty weight off you. Fight to not have it against your chest.

You want wealth... first look around and see if wealth isn't already there... because it I suspect it is, if nothing else, you have the gift of life. (bigger issue to discuss another time - what is real wealth?)

The list can go on and on, but the fact remains, WE CAN CHANGE THINGS IN AN INSTANT.

Just as my mom was gone in an instant - DEATH taking her away... we can let LIFE have the same power and create new things, new patterns, new habits, new attitudes or rebirth. Yes I was wrong in my great debate with friends and family, things can happen overnight, or better, in a single moment - in an instant. The most glorious example of this is when a man and woman come together (no pun intended) and in an instant create new life. In an instant. Sure, the process is long but the beginning of that process happens in a single moment - the tide turns, the winds shift - in an instant.

I spent the weekend saying good bye to my mom, one more time, walking from room to room. I began the day focused on the sadness, the emptiness... how astonished I was that she was suddenly gone. But then she spoke, one more time, not in words but in a voice without sound, a wisdom fueled by the fact that she is once again Home with the source (God) to let me know I was wrong.... If you want change, make it happen now, begin in NOW, this very moment, this very instant. Nothing, NOTHING is stopping you but yourself. There are no excuses, literally, none. All is possible, LIFE is possible and certain, as is DEATH, in an instant...

I'm going to shed ten pounds now. Starting today. Starting this very moment. Nothing big, just want to be back to a fighting weight. I think great things are on the horizon both in work and family and I want to be ready. Will it take some time, sure, all things do (and work) but it begins right now, at the end of this sentence...


Editor's Note: Actor Corbin Bernsen is president and partner of Home Theater Films, whose mission is "to strengthen family and community - the foundation of any society - through exciting, thought provoking storytelling that inspires discussion, and the creation of new tools to restore and rebuild home, community and a better world." Bernsen is the director writer of his newest movie out now, "Beyond the Heavens."

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