I haven’t written a blog since Mother’s Day. I have tried so many times but have been completely unable to put my thoughts and emotions down onto paper. My last blog I shared was about my mom and mom-in-law… two of the most amazing women I’ve been blessed to have in my life.
Shortly after that post (less than one week later), my husband’s family had to make the hardest (yet surprisingly easiest) decision to take the matriarch of their family, my mother-in-law, Donna, off of life support. It’s still hard to fathom how a seemingly healthy 78 year old woman could go from a sinus infection, to pneumonia, to Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome to organs beginning to fail. How can you wrap your mind out of sinus issues leading to oxygen masks to being intubated and having a machine breathe for you? And then realizing that we needed to make a decision to remove the machines that were keeping her alive. That may have actually been the easiest decision. The entire family agreed that this feisty, independent woman would never want to live hooked up to machines. If she couldn’t be watching golf, going to her grandkids events, visiting her family and talking with her friends, she would rather be in Heaven with Jesus.
Our family believes in Jesus and that He died on the cross for us. Accepting His free gift of grace allows us to have the hope of an eternity in Heaven with Jesus. So if you have that hope and promise, why would we selfishly want to keep this woman here suffering and no longer the strong woman we knew? We didn’t. We couldn’t. The family agreed to say good-bye and let her go. To see Jesus face to face. To reunite with her mom and her little son who died at age five. To walk the streets of gold. To worship Jesus with other believers.
But while the decision was easy, the act was not. I’m not going to lie… I was afraid. Terrified even. I had never experienced removing someone from life support. I was not sure what to expect and my biggest fear was that she would struggle to breathe. But in a way, as sad as it was, God brings beauty in the ashes. There were about 19 people in her hospital room surrounding her. Her husband, children, grandchildren, sister, friends, pastor and we all began singing songs of worship. Tears were streaming down everyone’s face as we began the grieving process yet at the same time celebrated the hope of what she would soon experience. Mourning and celebrating. In unison. It was sadly beautiful.
As the day went on, stories were shared, tears were shed, laughter was encouraged. We fellowshipped and reminisced around her bed, thankful for this woman who touched us all. After people began to leave, only her immediate family was left. Trying to decide what to do, the nurse said often the patient will pass away once everyone leaves. We didn’t want to leave her yet it could still be hours or even days. Quietly sitting in her room, just her three children and her husband and me, my husband leaned over and asked if I remembered the name of a song about Heaven we had recently heard. I didn’t remember but suddenly it came to him. He began to play the song called, The Other Side,” and at that exact moment the nurse came to to say she was passing.
It still makes me cry to remember her last moments with just her children and husband surrounding her bedside, crying and saying good-bye as these beautiful lyrics played.
It isn’t easy to say goodbye
But I know it’s only for a little while
Run up ahead and I will catch up
‘Cause I’m gonna see you when tomorrow comes
On the other side
On the other side
I bet you feel you’re finally home
Running down those streets of gold
The kind of peace you can’t explain
Looking into Jesus’ face
I know that you’re in a better place
I know I’ll be joining you someday.
Once again, mourning and celebrating. Sadness and beauty intertwined. I’ve never experienced death that closely. Like I said I was afraid. But I am so thankful that God once again showed His compassion and love by taking her peacefully and without struggle. I did not want her to struggle or suffer. And in difficult times, it’s amazing to see God’s hand. He took her HOME peacefully, without any struggle and surrounded by the people she loved the most.
I miss her. I still cry thinking about certain things. I cried when I realized I ordered her the last meal she ever ate. Or that she never finished her book. Or that I can’t text her to update her about my kids. I want to tell her about Zach’s training or send her photos of Katie’s finished library. I want to tell her about Alex’s new entrepreneur center and Mandi getting accepted into grad school. I want to show her pictures of Morgan’s new craft projects and her and Jaiden’s new house. I cry when I see old photos of her with my children. I miss seeing her at church sitting in her regular pew. Or stopping over for lunch because she had to use up her monthly money in the tavern. I miss seeing her interact with my kids, knowing how much she loved them. Or hearing her call my husband “my boy” or “Stevie.”
She was a woman who loved her family deeply. She encouraged, loved, supported and cared in her no nonsense way but I felt it. And I know my children felt it too. We know we were loved by her. Immeasurably. Unconditionally.
I am thankful I know how much she loved us. It gives me comfort. But yet still it hurts to know she’s gone from this earth. That loss will always be present as our family grows and expands. We will feel it at holidays and weddings and graduations. We will feel it in the daily moments when we can’t share exciting news or bad news or ask for advice or wisdom. The loss will hit randomly when we see a red Volkswagen Bug or converse shoes or recess peanut butter eggs. Somedays we will remember something that makes us laugh or smile. That’s the thing about grieving. It’s unpredictable and doesn’t follow a pattern or time table.
But while these moments are heartbreaking for the ones left behind, it’s also time to be joyous. Because she is in a place where there are no tears. No pain. No sin. No evilness. But rather… Peace. Worship. Fellowship. Joy. Holiness. Home.
And we will see her again. So it’s not good-bye! We will catch up… one day… on the other side!
Do you have the hope and peace of eternity? Life is fragile. If you want to know more about Jesus and His gift of salvation and promise of Heaven, feel free to contact me!