|(photo from pixshark.com)|
Processing. Processing. Just what is it I’m supposed to be processing? Life? Death? Gracefully transitioning through one and then the other? Or simply the idea of watching it unfold before me?
My brain seems to be in shut down mode more than processing mode tonight. Is this denial, not wanting to see the reality that’s before my eyes? Fear? Some version of panic? All of the above?
Blood. I’m not good with blood; not good with it at all! I’m not good with the smells that come with death, the stench of what the body is doing as it shuts down, the odors that permeate the air around those preparing to leave this world. My thanks and praise and honor go out to all of you called to careers that wholeheartedly embrace this part of reality, knowing that you’ve got gifts of mercy and endurance far beyond what my puny brain can fathom. To you, the doctors, the nurses, and mostly to the aides that get the bulk of the stinky work and the children taking care of their parents and the parents taking care of their children, I love you all from the bottom of my heart.
My blood is quivering in my veins. My throat is closing. The air is thin and hard to breathe in. My heartbeat is either pounding so loud I can’t stand it, or it’s so quiet I question if I’m awake. Burning tears bulge the skin around my eyes, but don’t fall. My eyelids bat at them, urging them to cut loose. A few make their way down my cheeks. My head can’t decide if it wants to burst from this profound pressure or just accept a headache. I sniffle. I feel a whisper of nausea washing over my body and the heat of fear flooding my face and neck.
My thoughts are so very unclear. How can I process what’s happening? Should I even be trying to make sense of this? Or is that better left to those of you in the healthcare fields? How do you make sense of this?
It’s one thing to get a phone call in the middle of the night, even when you’ve been waiting for it. But, it’s quite another to sit with and care for one I’m about to lose to the other side of eternity. She’ll see Jesus face-to-Face before I will. Probably.
|(photo from elephantjournal.com)|
Why can’t it always be a quiet slipping away while wrapped in slumber, dreams and conversations with our Creator?
No, sometimes great pain, discomfort and ugliness, swallowed up in blood and odors and weakness engulf both the one passing and those who love them.
Sleep. No wonder she wants to sleep. Her sleep consumes most of her day and all of her night. Perhaps there she’s able to forget the frustrations and sorrows and fears of her waking moments. When she’s sleeping, no one is trying to coax her to take a sip of water, or nibble on a snack; no one is trying to change her clothes or clean her body; no one is disturbing her peace. In her slumber she’s not forced to see what’s happening to her; she can drift off to another time and place if she chooses. Yes. I think I would sleep, too.
When she’s awake, it’s an effort to smile. I don’t dare ask what she’s thinking. Is she upset because she thinks others have given up on her? Or is she upset because she’s giving up on herself? Is she just annoyed because her body insists she’s tired and needs to be sleeping even more? Is she frustrated with those of us trying to help? Is she angry that this is how her life is ending? Does she wish it would end quickly, or does she grasp for each sunrise, even though she doesn’t seem happy to see it? Is she looking forward to “the other side”? If she is, she doesn’t show it.
|(photo from petfinder.com)|
She does smile, on occasion; at the sight of her puppy shaking his tail off because he’s so happy to see her – then, even though it’s out of love, he’s in her way. She smiled at the package of cookies a held before her, and then sighed at the chore it became to eat one.
She’s glad to be in her own bed. I ponder over what great solace this brings her, and squirm over the idea that she may not sleep there long. She needs more care than her home environment will allow. Unless, in His mercy, God takes her soon, she may find herself sleeping in a hospital bed or in a care facility of some sort. That, too, will steal any fleeting smile from her lips.
I wrestle with “how would I feel” – but, the truth is, I can’t know how I will feel until I get there. And right now, it doesn’t matter at all how I would feel, what matters is how to comfort her through what she’s feeling. Honestly, I can only imagine what she’s thinking or feeling; I actually have no clue what’s going through her pretty little head.
|(Meme from thecaregiverspace.org)|
Wait. The pressure in my face is increasing, for some reason the tears that are building up inside there somewhere are being held prisoner. The occasional loss of one tear or two doesn’t help.
Wait. Rest isn’t coming. I need to go home, to my own house, my own bed, the arms of my own husband.
Wait. My own sniffling is driving me crazy. But, I don’t want to disturb her sleep with one of my notorious nose-blowing escapades.
Wait. The flowers around the room don’t bring any cheer to my heart.
Wait. My body can’t decide if it’s hot or cold. The water from my bottle doesn’t satisfy my thirst.
Wait. Listen. Breathe…..Pray.
As I invite the Holy Spirit into the room, into my head, my lungs, and my body – a peace begins to wash over me. Now, yes, now – my tears fall. Something is releasing; something is being freed.
“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.” Psalm 32:7 (KJV)
Wait. I will wait on God, whether understanding comes with His peace or not. Selah.