Monday, April 3, 2017

A Refuge in Zion

Toward the end of last week things got so intense and sharing here was not a possibility. Now that things have slowed for a short while I wanted to update.

Yesterday, Sunday, just before the sun rose, Mom went to Heaven. Since last Tuesday she seemed to have one foot there and one foot still here. One morning in particular she spent talking about a huge banquet being prepared in Heaven and was so adamant that all of our family be there. By name she called out family members one after another with the simple imperative, “Come.” Family, friends, I promised her I’d tell you this. For five days I got to stand at the edge of eternity getting little glimpses of God’s heart and feeling His nearness. The spiritual realm of Heaven and Hell, angels and demons was and is so real. God’s heart for you is good. She talked about feeling His arms of love and fell back on her pillow in amazement. A banquet is being prepared for God’s bride and you are invited to belong in that group- to sit at the family table and feast on, what Mom kept calling, a breakfast buffet. She even said she smelled glorified bacon! Revelation 22:17 says, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Taking Notes

All of my posts are still coming via my cell phone and all late at night after the work of the day is done and my eyes are weary. Tonight I pulled myself away from Mom's side at midnight to get some rest. This day has been so sacred.

Amazingly there is still no pain or distress despite the fact that her body is giving definite signs that it is shutting down. When Mom awoke this morning the first words from her mouth were, "First day in Heaven." She talked and sang all day about angels, a big breakfast being prepared and a new body. Really, it was all surreal. Some things were very clear and other things mysterious. The boldness and authority with which she prayed was astounding. There was so much. A few tears, much laughing and heaps of joy.

For about a week Mom has wrestled with what would be next. What would her body do? Would God miraculously heal and raise her from this sick bed or would He chose to end her time on Earth? Today the look in her eyes had changed and she definitively, excitedly declared that she was ready to go. "This is a process," she informed me. I always thought it would be a scary one, but I feel none of the fear or dread I had expected. In this valley where the shadow of death looms, the Hope ahead is so bright that it's casting out all fear. He is leading us and keeping His promises. I'm writing so much of it down with pen and paper. Never have I walked this closely with someone to Heaven. It's such an honor.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Living and Dying Grace

On Wednesday I finally made it back to Mom and Dad's. Levi was sick the beginning of the week with what seemed like a stomach bug so I stayed back for a day or so to make sure that we didn't share germs. Feeling fine Lerah and I left early Wednesday headed down to GA. I knew it already, but the feeding tube still wasn't working after multiple nurses and troubleshooting by a doctor. I'll spare details, but we found a way to get at least some water and nutrition to Mom.  

So many ask and so many are praying.  Mom is not in pain at all. She is a little uncomfortable from swelling but not in pain. Her demeanor is constantly one of joy and peace. I don't know how she does it. Today I almost lost my cool with a nurse, but Mom was so serene. She says it's dying grace. And God is pouring it out abundantly, daily. He is being so kind to us all in this gift to her. She is not suffering and that has been my earnest prayer. 

Tomorrow will be full with lots of family coming through.  So for tonight, rest and thankfulness.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Coming and Going

Since taking Mom home there has been a constant flurry of activity. Nurses coming in and out, friends stopping by, and my aunt and uncle (Mom's baby brother) arriving from Alabama. With Mom still so alert and not wanting anyone to fret over her, time with her is like a joyful challenge of figuring out how to covertly serve and comfort her. She is a dream patient oohing and ahhing over foot massages and shaved ice and chicken noodle soup broth.

Truth be told, though, I have been away from Mom now for a little over 24 hours. I made the six hour trip home to see Jason and the kids while my Aunt and Uncle assist Dad. Unfortunately I hadn't been gone but a few hours when trouble started. Mom's feeding tube stopped working and for the last 24 hours Dad, three nurses and various family have tried to get it fixed but to no avail. She is taking in minimal liquids by mouth so prayers have been going up fervently for an answer to this issue. The doctor is researching options but it will be Monday, we are told, before he will do anything. Again, mom is unphased. But, we are still working to find an answer!

I will be traveling back soon to be with them and in the meantime appreciate you joining us in praying for wisdom and strength. God is still raining down peace which is an absolute gift. Thank you to so many of you for asking Him for that on our behalf! He is hearing and giving!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Home Sweet Home

For the last two nights Mom was up at 4 a.m. chit chatting with her nurse. Tonight I get to be the one she chats with because we are HOME! This is both a blessing and a curse because while there's no place like home there also aren't helpers to wash things, cook food, change linens, flush I.V.s or attend to tubes at 4 a.m. I hope I paid enough attention. 

Mom is still doing remarkably well. Her peace is inspirational.  "Life isn't fair," she says when I tell her this is not right and that she doesn't deserve this. Her mother died of cancer, her sister and her brother. She was the care taker for her mother and sister's final days. And yet, even with the doctor's official diagnosis, she's still a pillar of strength. She has goals dreaming of being back up on her feet, of moving around independently and of loving on her grand babies. Because our wheelchair dreams were premature we shifted our sights to reading a good book, playing Uno and visiting with company yesterday. Today's goal was making the transition home smoothly. That, we nailed!

I'm off to bed now. Duty starts at 4 a.m. followed by my first test in the morning- flushing an I.V. solo. It's good to be home and for Mom to be doing so well! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hospice Days

Tonight's update will be short. I'm working with only a cell phone and a wifi connection while Mom and I enjoy our first television show together. Since coming to Hospice the pressure and alarm of all of the news is settling. Mom's coloring has improved and she's able to stand and move for short amounts of time. In the hospital the first night after surgery Mom had blood clots in both lungs and had alarms constantly going off warning us of different things. It was high stress. Here at hospice there is only the sound of the oxygen machine and a few wires and tubes that Dad and I are being trained to care for. I am by no means nurse material but 'tis the season for stepping out of comfort zones.

Tomorrow items will be delivered to my childhood home and by Wednesday, if all continues as planned, we will move Mom home. I'm still taking notes on all the nurses are doing- threading, flushing, priming. That will be mine and Dad's job. Our goal tomorrow is a wheelchair ride through the center. We're learning to cherish the small things and gather up moments. These days are a gift to us, and we are so thankful!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

But Mom...

For Rebecca and the many other amazing nurses at the SGHS Brunswick Campus.

The little well of words at this blog over here dried up long ago, but recently, in my mind's eye, I saw a tiny spring break open the dry ground. Perhaps the trickle I saw was preparation for sharing in such a time as this.

For some time now my mama hasn't felt right. She knew it, but every doctor and negative test made her wonder if she was just going crazy. Finally, the pain drove her for more tests and by February one test showed a gallbladder issue and an unidentified growth. Mysterious growths and liver lesions are never a good thing. Bloodwork showed very low iron so she went for her first transfusion. With testing taking so very long and the pain unrelenting, she went to the E.R. Friday, March 3rd. By evening doctors knew exploratory surgery was needed but first another tranfusion. Surgery was scheduled for Monday, and the weekend was filled lots of sickness.

The days leading up to Monday we prayed so fervently. Prayers of faith for healing, for comfort, for help. The surgeon held nothing back when he came from surgery to tell us the severity of the cancer's spread and the prognosis. The oncologist would echo his sentiments, albeit in a more compassionate manner. Advanced Stage 4. The type would need aggressive chemo, and Mom's body was too weak for that.

Yesterday, one week after Mom checked into the hospital, we checked out and made our way to Hospice.  It all seems surreal to see how far knowledge has brought us in a week. I'd lie if I didn't admit that the grief has been so intense at times that it's knocked Dad and I flat out. Thankfully we both haven't crumbled at the same time.

But Mom...

It is the absolute truth that she has held her head high and stared this in the face with total peace. I've asked her constantly how she's doing, is she okay? And every time she gives her answer of total surrender to whatever God allows. For a year she's hurt and prayed for healing. That year of trial has given way to a surrendered heart. She will carry this cross and not bemoan it.

In this little hospice room she's been pouring out wisdom and the secrets to her superpower of peace. I'll be updating here with little nuggets and the latest with her health if you'd  like to keep tabs.

Also, I can't forget to say thank you to the countless families helping care for Jason and the kids back home so that I can be by Mom's side. We are so blessed by your generosity and friendship!!