Wednesday, September 3, 2008

His Mysterious Ways

(This has been written over the course a few days as I finally feel ready to share. I occasionally had to stop because I couldn’t find the right words and other times because I couldn’t see through the tears.)

God’s timing is always perfect although many times it seems far from it. When Chris had to go away this summer (AGAIN!) for 6 weeks I didn’t like it. I admit, I grumbled and complained a little. To me it was just a necessary evil, but it was all part of God’s plan.
You see, If Chris hadn’t gone away, I would probably not have been in NJ, and I wouldn’t have had the time that the kids and I spent with my mother before she died and I may or may not have been there in time to be with her when she passed away.
I went up to New Jersey to stay for four weeks fully expecting that my mother would still be alive when I returned to Virginia. She was in a pretty bad condition but had been fairly stable for quite some time. She was doing about the same when I arrived and we were able to go to Ocean City with her for the week. This is the place that we always vacationed. We went almost every summer while I was a child for at least a week at a time. It was definitely my mom’s favorite place on earth.
The whole week she was in a lot of pain as she had been for the past several months but by God’s grace her condition remained stable. It was so hard to watch her sit in the house (barely making it to the porch) and not be able to go to the beach that she loved so much. She said that she felt good just to be down there but I still felt guilty going down to the beach, or on the boardwalk, and leaving her behind in the house. She insisted that we enjoy ourselves though but I think that my favorite parts of those days was when everything would get settled down and we were able to just sit in the living room and talk, and laugh, and cry. We were able to get her to go down to the beach one time because she wanted pictures on the beach of her and all her grandkids. It was so wonderful to see her enjoy the smells and sounds of the beach and the warmth of the sun on her face one last time.
After we returned home to her house (The kids and I were staying with her) things quickly took a turn for the worse. My sister had returned to her house in Northern NJ on Saturday (the day the vacation ended) and unpacked just to decide to pack back up and turn around and come stay at my mom's house on Sunday. She was in much more pain than before and her chest was beginning to get congested. She also spent much more time in bed and could hardly walk around the house. I got used to hearing her call me for simple things like a paper towel, or more water. My favorite thing to do was to stand behind her rocking chair or at the side of the bed and rub her head and run my fingers through her hair (what little of it she
It amazed me that she never complained, never questioned why. She said a number of times that she was ready to die, but it never came across as a complaint. Just as a statement that when the time comes she is ready. The strength that God gave her was amazing.
By Wednesday she was much , much worse. Her congestion was really bad and we gave her a patch to put behind her ear (it was the same medicine used for seasickness) but it is prescribed for “secretions” in hospice patients. She stayed out of bed the entire day this day. I think that she knew that when she went to bed she wouldn’t get out. She started getting really confused and saying strange things. She was asking about my father (who she had been divorced from since I was 4 and who died a few months ago, also of lung cancer). She also would talk to people who weren’t in the room and pick up imaginary cups and drink from them. We realized later that the confusion was a side effect from the patch and so we took it off and she got a lot better, but her secretions came back. Her mouth was incredibly sore and covered in thrush and her lips were dry and cracked so it hurt her to eat or drink (so she wasn’t eating and only rarely drinking).
That night my sister and I decided to set the recliner up in her room and take turns sleeping in there with her at night. My sister volunteered to take the first night. We got her situated in bed and Lisa (my sis) told me to try and get some sleep. Her secretions were really bad and causing a rattly gargling sounds when she breathed and it was keeping even me awake from the other room. It has been called the “death rattle”. It was only a little while before my sister came and got me because she just wasn’t sure what to do. My mom was in so much pain and we were never instructed by hospice on how much morphine we were allowed to give, etc. Her mouth was covered in scabs and the only way we could give her water was in a syringe.
I wasn’t much help as I didn’t know what to do either so we both just stayed there staring at her for most of the rest of the night until we called the on-call nurse at 1 am and got further instructions.
The next morning TONS of people were in and out of the house. Everyone knew that there wasn’t much time left. We were exhausted and the kids were going stir-crazy so I decided to take them to Chris’ parents house for the evening. This is where God’s timing comes in so evidently again. I returned back to the house after dropping off the kids and went to take a short nap since there were plenty of people there to care for my mom. My brothers arrived home from work and all the older grandkids were there as well as cousins and friends and my aunt. I think I had fallen asleep for only a minute when my sister-in-law Kim came bursting into the room that I was sleeping in and told me to get in my mom’s room with my brothers and sister. Apparently she had stopped the 'death rattle’ and calmly looked up at some pictures on the wall and smiled. Then she got a far away look on her face. She was breathing slowly and very shallow when I came into the room. We were all around her and had turns holding her hands, and talking to her, and praying before she calmly took her last breath.
It was just amazing to see God’s hand in all of this. Of course it is sad and painful, but I can rejoice in the fact that before she died she came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That she is resting peacefully in his arms as we speak . I still have times where I almost forget that she is really gone and think that I should call her (as I did multiple times a day since she was sick). The kids and I cry together occasionally as we talk about her. I still wonder when the time will come when I think of her and my first thought won’t be about her death, but about her life. She was an amazing, strong woman with an incredibly full life. She was self-sacrificing and outgoing and funny. I pray that I will always remember these good times and the hard times will fade slowly into the background. They have forever changed me. I value my health much more than before and praise God for every pain free breath that I take. If you have read this far, go hug your mother if she is still alive. If she is not go hug your kids, and thank God for every moment He gives you with the people you love.


Davene September 4, 2008 at 10:56 PM  

Misty, thank you so much for sharing this. Wow. It is amazing to see God's hand in the past few months. I, too, had thought about the timing of it with Chris being gone and you being in NJ because of that...but I didn't know the rest of the story and all the details that are so precious.

Isn't it time that you and Julie and I got together again? I'd love to catch up more in person. :)

Sending you hugs...

Julie September 6, 2008 at 11:45 PM  

I can finally read and comment on this and thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life with us. It is with tears in my eyes that I read of your mom's passing from this "veil of tears" into the arms of her Savior...Who allowed her all of the time on this earth that she needed to prepare for eternity with Him. THANK YOU for posting of the HOPE that we have in Jesus. Much love to you...

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