Following my last writing my husband asked me a question, ‘How do you define helpless?’ My answer: The position of being in complete reliance of the Father. The absence of control. Total surrender. This is where true beauty is found. I’ve witnessed it.
We’ve known that my mom’s days were nearing the end but it’s as if someone keeps moving the finish line. It is gut wrenching. Two weeks ago we thought the end was very near. My mom began to have extreme difficulty breathing and was put on oxygen. She had developed blood clots in her legs and lungs. She was declining rapidly. On moving day, I got the call that I needed to get up to see my mom. I left my husband and the fabulous group of men helping him load the moving truck, and made my way to her bedside. I was prepared leaving that night that it would be my final goodbye. It wasn’t.
A week ago today, I left my husband and kids for six days to relieve my sister of bedside duty. My mom is in need of full-time care as she is no longer able to walk on her own. She needs assistance getting in and out of bed, to her wheelchair, to the bathroom, to the recliner. She is on almost six liters of oxygen and a wide array of medications. It is excruciatingly painful to sit and watch my mother wilt away. To look in her eyes and hear her say the words, ‘I just want to go to sleep.’ It is depressing. It is heartbreaking. It sucks.
My first night with my mom, I held her hand and stroked her, trying to calm her anxiousness. As she watched the clock closely, waiting for her Ativan to kick in, she told me how sorry she was that I had to watch this. I told my mom, ‘I’m just sorry you’re having to go through this.’ As I continued to hold her hand, my heart cried out to my Father. Jesus, please take her! Don’t let her suffer any more! Every night while I was there, I prayed she wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Each day the sun came up, it was a surprise what you would awake to. One day my mom would eat one or two times and sleep a majority of the day and you would think we’re moving in the direction of freeing her from her suffering. The next day, my mom would eat three or four times and be awake and alert for a larger portion of the day. Add my mom’s extreme mood swings and the joy of watching her and my dad try to be in control simultaneously and it was as though I were on a glorious beach vacation. Insert sarcasm. Insert large glass of wine. It was a roller coaster. It is still a roller coaster.
My final night with my mom, after getting her settled in bed, I began looking through pictures to choose for the slideshow being created for my mom’s celebration of life service. I smiled looking back at the many adventures my mom and dad enjoyed together as well as the precious moments my mom has had with my children. It didn’t take long before I began comparing the face in the pictures to the face I had been studying so closely over the past several days. There were the obvious changes but one thing hadn’t changed. My mom’s beauty. She is more beautiful today than she has ever been. While my mom is unable to see it as she struggles with needing full-time care, I see her beauty. I look deep in her eyes and I see a woman who has endured far more than anyone should have to. I see a woman who’s body has been taken over by a monster called cancer. I see a woman who is tired of this longest road of suffering and ready to receive her new body. My mom is a helpless beauty.
As I made my way through my final day with my mom, my emotions were ready to burst through the damn. I was physically, mentally and emotionally spent. To love and serve my parents for six days and to be told this longest road of suffering could continue another one, two, maybe even three weeks, left me paralyzed on my knees. Jesus! I cannot do this! I cannot endure any more! I want to live again. I want to enjoy my new home with my family. How am I supposed to do that? How am I to walk through my day, knowing my mom is in bed or in her chair waiting to die? How do I do that Father? I feel nauseous when I think about it. I am Your helpless beauty, Father, but I feel anything but beautiful right now. I am tired. I am SO tired, Father. Rescue me, Jesus. Take my heart and restore it with the full measure of Your peace, Your love, Your gentleness, Your kindness, Your patience, Your goodness, Your strength, Your perseverance, Your grace. I need all of You to fill all of me. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Father. Thank You, Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 40:27-31 The Message
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles.
They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.