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Living Faith
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Armenian Christianity and the World
Armenian Christianity and Survival

When I Lost My Mom I Lost My Faith

It was going to be a busy weekend in what was my busy 24-year-old life. I went to school during the day and worked in the evenings, and I was dating the man I planned to marry. That Saturday, my fiancé and I were going to a baby shower. On Sunday, the family was gathering to celebrate my grandparents' fiftieth wedding anniversary. That weekend was my parents' wedding anniversary also.

My mother had been sick with the flu for about three days. She was resting on the couch that morning when I left the house. I promised her I'd pick up some things at the grocery store for the party the next day on our way home from the shower.

That evening, when we returned from the shower, cars were parked everywhere at my parents' home. It was weird. I had no idea what was going on. We were trying to park the car when my father came out of the house. He told us that my mother had suffered a heart attack. The medics had tried to bring her back, but they couldn't save her. She was dead. My mother was dead.

To this day, we don't know if it was heart symptoms that made it look like she had the flu or if it was actually the flu that caused the heart attack. What I do know is that my mother was the foundation of our family, and my two younger sisters and I were completely lost without her.

I could not believe that God would take our mother at such a young age and without any warning. I fell into a severe depression. I was numb. I did not feel love. I didn't feel anything. It was hard to cope with everyday life. It was hard to make it through an entire day. I fell out of love with my husband-to-be. I questioned my faith in God. There were days that I just prayed for God to take my life, too.

Up until then I had been an active member of our church community, so it was natural to talk to Father Kevork. He reminded me that we should not question God or his plan for us. I knew that he was right, but, at the same time, I could not understand why God would take my mother.

I don't remember much about that time. I remember trying to keep busy. I could not handle idle time, because that was when I would start feeling sorry for myself and my depression would really set in. I knew I just had to put my trust in God. I did.

Little by little I became stronger. It took about three months for my feelings to return. I fell in love with my fiancé again. We married as we had planned to before my mother died, and I began attending church regularly again.

In hindsight, I think the key to my spiritual recovery was my husband and I deciding to lead the Armenian Christian Youth Organization Youth Leaders group at the church. My mother's death had taught me the importance of living each day to the fullest, because we don't know what tomorrow will bring. I tried to get this message across to the children. The more I gave to these children, the more they gave back to me and the stronger my faith became. My husband and I have led our youth group for fifteen years now, and each year of working with the kids brings me the same wonderful rewards.

My first child was born on the anniversary of my mother's death four years later. I don't believe that is a coincidence. I think God knew how painful that day was for me so he gave me my child on that day. Then, even more ironically, four years after my first child was born, my father died the exact same way my mother had on the exact same weekend. Part of me could not believe that God had done this to me and our family again. I did not lose my faith the second time, but I slipped a little bit.

Our lives are in God's hands. He has the plan. He has the control. What we can do is to pray and trust Him. I learned that from these experiences. I learned to live each minute of every day as if it were my last, and I learned that the best way to do this is to give to others. The more you give, the more you receive, and the stronger your faith becomes.

Laurie Nalbandian, Fowler, California


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