Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer …
We finally sprung Mom from the hospital on Sept. 1, but it was quickly evident she was getting weaker and weaker. She fell a couple of times at home because she “didn’t want to burden” to me. The radiation, while working on shrinking the tumors in her brain, left her completely wiped out. And, as it turned out, her weakened immune system allowed the cancer cells in her liver to attack again with a vengeance.
She did complete her radiation Sept. 16, but was in pretty much constant pain. The doctor thought it might be a muscle bruise or bone injury from one of her falls and suggested a bone scan. We both knew it was more than that. Mom said she didn’t want any more tests, so we opted to wait out our next appointment with Dr. Ignaczak the following week.
I may not have wanted to face it, but Mom knew this was the beginning of the end. When we saw PA Dr. Tracy Meyer, she was still going by blood work from Mom’s hospital admission. As she was talking to us, Dr. Ignaczak knocked on the door, sat down and gave us the news. The cancer had returned — both in Mom’s liver and lung. There was nothing more that could be done. It was too soon to restart chemo and too extensive for more radiation. The best they could do was keep Mom comfortable until it was time to let go. The doctors estimated a couple of weeks. We got a couple of days.
Mom was so weak. But she was still stoic. We conference called you guys Tuesday afternoon with the news and, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your response and quick arrival. All she wanted was to see her kids again.
The plan was for me to give you the letters and sentimental “things” to remember her by after she died. But when you all got there by Thursday night (Sept. 25), she wanted to say goodbye to you kids personally.
I know it was emotional for you guys, just as much as it was for Mom and me. But she wanted me to let you know you all were her life. In her letter to me — yes, she wrote one to me as well — she wanted me to make sure each of our children knew, though she made a lot of mistakes along the way, she did her best and above all, she loved you with all her heart and soul … unconditionally.
Mom had a rough Thursday night/Friday morning, but we were able to talk alone, walk down Memory Lane again and say the things we wanted to say to each other. Early Friday morning, she said she was tired of hurting. I told her it was okay. This journey hurts — and it will hurt — but we would rather hurt than her. When she was ready, just go. Our Lord was waiting.
She was basically unresponsive all day Friday, Friday night and Saturday morning, but her breathing became more and more labored. At 12:35 p.m. she opened her eyes and we all gathered around her to tearfully say goodbye. She took her last breath at 12:38 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.
I don’t know much about the mechanics of death, but I do know Mom faced it with grace and dignity. There was no apprehension. There was no tension in her hands. It may not be scientifically nor theologically true, but I believe her eyes opened to the glory of eternity as she saw her Lord and Savior come with open arms to embrace her and bring her to the Father.
She wrote to me, “Ready or not the Lord is going to bring me to a new home. I’m not sure He’s ready but who am I to question? I do wonder what it is like. I guess we are always afraid of the ‘unknown’ and, trust me, I’m no different. Eternity is a long time. Do you think I’ll be charged with cleaning? Maybe cooking? Wow, can you imagine the kitchen I’d have there? I could do the cooking and be in heaven … literally. The only thing I know for sure is that there will be no more cancer, no more tears, no more tiredness or sickness, swollen bodies from fluids and poisons. Just, joy, laughter, praise, worship and glorious peace.”
Which brings us to the next chapter … It’s All About Faith.
To be continued …
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you let God navigate, you’ll find all the time you’ve been blown around, you were actually storming home.