I suppose I have a deeper appreciation of why medical professionals do not like to give a time frame for when someone is going to die. There is always the mystery of death to contend with and that lies way beyond any human reason or set of bodily functions that begin to indicate that the end is nigh. When my mom's nurse saw her on Monday, she predicted with great certitude that mom's passing was likely going to happen within the next 24 hours. Here we are on Thursday morning trying to contend with the final stages of my mom's earthly life. I have to admit that I am a bit shaken right now. The nights are long and uncertain. In my humble opinion, mom's spirit has left us and we are just waiting for the body to catch up. She is truly gone in every single way, except she keeps breathing. Her breathing is labored and difficult. The nurse assures us that it is way more uncomfortable for us to listen to than it is for mom to experience but it's quite unnerving.
If I am to be totally transparent, a quality that my mom taught so many to embrace, I must say that I'm struggling with the notion that "God's timing is perfect." While my faith is sustaining me during this difficult period, I also must admit that I do not understand why she is lingering in such a difficult place when all human interaction is now finished. We are playing hymns, praying, loving her, talking with her, assuring her it is OK for her to go, and yet, she lingers on. I wonder why and worry that somehow she is uncomfortable letting go. I want release for her, for me, for my father.
Yesterday two friends sent quotes that have meant the world to me. The first relates to patience and is from Henri Nouwen, a writer and theologian who I have gone to often in my own faith journey. He writes, “A waiting person is a patient
person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are
and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something
hidden there will manifest itself to us.” I am seeking to "stay where we are", be in the moment and not seek escape from the reality of this situation but it is hard. The irony for me in all of this is that I am least patient person I know. I like to get things moving and make things happen. And there is not one thing I can do right now to make mom's death happen in a timely and tidy manner. And so we wait. With great uncertainty and sadness and discomfort to be able to embrace her passing and move to the next stage of grief.
Another friend sent this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. It is so beautiful and so timely and so appropriate that I would ask each of you who read this blog to pray it with us several times throughout this day and on into the night if we are called to face another night with her hanging on.
"Keep watch, O God, with those who work, or watch, or weep today. Give your angels charge over those who sleep and those who wait. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; all for your love's sake. Amen."
And again we pray, Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.
Thanks to so many of you who have left comments, written me or my dad, followed what's happening on Facebook. Phone calls are exceedingly hard right now so we ask that phone calls be kept to a minimum. My dad and I will update our networks as soon as anything changes.
The global community of care that is surrounding us right now is absolutely sustaining me as we walk this difficult road. Thank you for letting me share my heart and journey with you.