When the phone rings at 4am, it’s never good news. I opened one eye early Friday morning and realized that not only had my phone been buzzing but I’d missed numerous texts from my sister. I stumbled out of bed into the living room and called her immediately.
“You need to come to the hospital now. Mom can’t breathe and they’ve run out of treatment options and will have to intubate.”
I threw on some clothes and fumbled around in the dark for Simon’s car keys and tried to stop shaking. “I’m scared, Simon.”
There’s something that happens in that moment as the car zooms along in the dark and you’re hurtling towards an uncertainty that’s bigger than anything you’ve experienced before. So many unanswered questions, fear, sadness. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, in the ticking of second hands around a clock face.
In the hospital under glaring fluorescent lights Mom lay in her room breathing heavily. She was talking with Amy and I and I was relieved to see that she recognized us. My Dad showed up with Earl. And then all of a sudden things were happening and people were coming in, and things like “Either we intubate or… we make her as comfortable as we can.” were being said. Mom begged us to take her home. We all started to choke up.
It was a moment of surprising clarity. In these moments, nothing else matters. Nothing but the love between you and your family and the bond that keeps you together. I saw the way my Dad stood next to my mom and the heartbreak evident on his face and in his posture.
These are universal experiences. There’s not a person on the planet who won’t experience death in some capacity and yet, it still feels like something that happens to Other People. I felt fear rise up my throat and threaten to swallow me whole on those first couple of days.
She is the center of my life in so many ways. Everything I am is because of her. I make the bed the way I do because of how she taught me. I raise my children similarly to how she raised us. There is nobody who is a greater cheerleader for each one of us than her.
So now it has been several days and I’m losing track of time. Each day is a mix of highs and lows. Some news is better. Some news is worse. We don’t know what’s going to happen.
But while there is life, there is hope. And even in death, should that be the case, we continue to have hope. We are hoping for the best but aware that God has an overall plan for Mom and that he loves her even more than we do. His ways are not always our ways, His thoughts are not always our thoughts.
We carry on.
I can’t say thank you enough to so many friends and family who have reached out, visited, sent us gift cards, brought us food, or listened to our disjointed thoughts while holding our hands in waiting rooms. These things are a balm to our souls in real, tangible ways. We sense Jesus in wise words and in a warm, delicious meal brought to us with hugs and well wishes. I am humbled by those who have walked this path ahead of us and reassured that we will make it through with evidence of God’s presence the whole way through.
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