Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Rest Of The Story

Mom, Karen, Nancy, and Joyce 
     Last night was my first venture into writing on my blog in well over a year. I rather boldly announced my return on my Facebook page and have been encouraged by kind words of encouragement. Thank you. Praise from men should never be my motivation for doing anything in life, but it sure is encouraging to know that maybe my thoughts and words can be used by God to help others who might be going through something similar.
     Yesterday I wrote about my Mother's last day. Except it wasn't really her last day. Now I'll tell you, a few bits and pieces from the days that followed...  I finally went to bed. Whenever I stayed with my Mom, I always slept with her in her bedroom.  She never liked the fact that I stayed awake so long. She liked for us to go to bed about the same time, which was usually way too early for me. But when I did, we would sometimes chat together in the dark and laugh together about the silliest memories.  On this night, on December 27, I slipped quietly into bed because she was sound asleep from her busy day. I can't really remember exactly what time it was anymore, but I hadn't been sleeping for very long when Mom woke me up with her snoring. I laughed a little to myself because she never snored, or if she did, it was small and delicate little whiffs that were barely audible. I, however, was a different story. Back then, I snored with a capital S! I've been told I've improved greatly in recent years, but back then my snoring would wake Mom, so she would push my arm at night to get me to roll over. That night, for the first time ever, I was the one that pushed on her arm - not once, but twice. I gave up. She was so loud, I went to the kitchen and ate a piece of birthday cake in the dark.  It was probably about 2:30 in the morning and I put my head down on her kitchen table and started to fall asleep. I woke my self up enough to move to the couch, but I could still hear her. I gave up and just crawled back in bed. Out of sheer exhaustion, I feel asleep and didn't wake up until the alarm went off to get up for church.
     That was the first time it registered that something could be wrong. I tried to wake Mom up, but she was unresponsive. I tried to lift her head, but she was completely limp. I pressed her call button for her nurse and also called to Elise who was in the other room. I'm not even sure of the order of things anymore, and who called whom, but within minutes the nurse was upstairs and the fire rescue squad was in her apartment. Oh, how my Mom would have hated that! She knew that the people in the "Retirement Village" would all be looking out the window, trying to figure out who was going to the hospital.  And then there would be the gossip.  She said the residents would see the ambulance and often have a person dead and buried when they were only being held at the hospital for observation because of dizziness! Nevertheless, the ambulance was called, and so were my sisters. I don't even remember how I got to the hospital, but I was the first one there, the first one that the doctor talked to and explained the prognosis. They were very clear that what had occurred was a massive stroke and that she would not recover. It would be their intent to keep her comfortable, but not prolong the inevitable. 
     She was given a room, and my sisters and I stayed by her side day and night. We talked with her and sang to her. The doctors told us that hearing is the last sense to leave, and while we had no idea if she heard us or not, it didn't matter. What mattered was that she was not alone or ignored in these final hours, that she was surrounded by her family that loved her. Even the nurses that cared for her, cared for her tenderly and with dignity. This was Sunday, December 28, and she lived for another four full days. As the days went on, the hospital notified us that she would need to be transferred to a hospice facility. After those details were set in place, my sister Karen and I were with Mom when a woman from hospice had to ok her transfer by ambulance.  The nurse told us Mom was in the active state of dying. I think those were her words. She carefully, gently explained what signs she was looking for and what was happening to our Mother. She asked us if our Mom had any favorite hymns, and this nurse started singing to her. It was such a beautiful, sacred time. My sister Karen rode in the ambulance with our Mother, and my sister Nancy and I followed in her car.
     Do you know that verse in the Bible that mention Mary "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart"? Luke 2:19  That's what I did for a long time.  I pondered. Because I was the one with my Mom that night, I wondered if I could have/should have done something differently? Something that could have saved her? It was first question I asked in the emergency room.  It was the first question I asked the neurologist. It was the one and only question that I asked every different doctor and nurse that I saw. I needed to know the answer. Did I cause this? Did I do something wrong? Could this have been prevented? While all of them assured me that, no, I didn't do anything wrong, one doctor finally said, "Young lady, this all happened in an instant and from that moment forward there was nothing that any amount of medical intervention could have done to prevent this outcome." That was it. I had to rest with that answer. I had to trust that this series of events was planned by a loving God. Now that time has given me some distance and perspective, I can thank God for the beautiful way He took our Mother home. No tears. No pain. Just quietly. Home. To be with Him forever.

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