Today is February 3rd, 2013. Aimie’s birthday. And the day when I will finally tell the story that I need so desperately to tell.
It was Mother’s Day 2012.
After mom was moved to the ICU, the family was moved to the waiting room. We gathered. Dad, Rusty, Me, Bob, Stan, Teresa, Paula, Nikki, Aimie, Nick, Katie, Jordan. There was a radio, we turned on christian music and we sang. We paced the hall. We watched nurses and doctors running in and out of her room. We waited. Pastoral care members came to see us, we talked to them and told them that we had faith, we told them about mom. We waited. Doctors came to see us and tell us how sick she was, did we hear? We prayed, paced, sang, waited. It seems like we were in that room forever. Why wouldn’t they let us see her?
There were songs that, to this day if I hear them, I’m transported back into that waiting room hearing them again. Was God talking to us? It seemed that every song had a message specifically for that night.
“It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes it’s rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”
Even though a part of me has died
You take this heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide”
She had collided with the healer alright, and I’m certain that she was choosing to go, to go into his arms. She’d told us many times during this final journey that she was ready and didn’t want to fight so hard to stay here. The fight that she endured five years ago with her last round of chemo/cancer had been her last. She wasn’t afraid to go, she had made her mind up that if her staying required another fight…she’d rather just go. She knew she would be in heaven, she knew we’d meet again. She’d left us all the life lessons and words of wisdom she had. She’d cooked for us, laughed with us, cried with us, and most importantly taught us. She taught us how to not sweat the little stuff, how to care for others, how to enjoy life, and how to accept ourselves.
And whether she knew it or not, she taught us how to die.
When we were finally allowed to go into the room and see her, they first warned us. The doctor explained how very sick she was, how they’d tried to revive her and that they’d placed her on life support. She was on a breathing machine, and being pumped full of so many drugs to keep her heart beating that she wasn’t really sustaining life on her own anymore. We numbly listened then walked slowly down the hall as a group…into her room. There she lay. Not mom, but mom. We all took turns kissing her, holding her hand, whispering into her ear, telling her how much we loved her….and crying.
As a group we walked back to the waiting room. What were we waiting for?
Doctors and pastoral care people (there were two now) came back. The doctor explained again how sick she was, and that the medicine they were using to keep her alive would actually hurt her other organs if she remained on them long term. Aimie explained to him that we’d seen miracles before. We’d seen Bob, Mom, Connor beat all medical odds and live after we were told they’d die. Aimie wanted this story to end as it had before. The doctor was fabulous, he told us that anything was possible. We asked if we could pray for him and he readily agreed. (not sure he knew what he was in for) Immediately about half the room stood up and approached him, we all laid our hands on his back, shoulders, arms and prayed, “God give this man wisdom. Give him the ability to do everything that he can to help mom and then you do the rest God. Amen”
Some time after that, after more praying, singing, pacing…the nurse and doctor came back in to tell us there was no change. We asked if we could go in again and see her. The group moved down the hall again, we went in to see mom/not mom again. We stood and watched the machine blow air into her body and listened to the beeps and whirs and mechanical sounds of the machines keeping her alive. I don’t know how, but we wound up outside her room, gathered around the doctor who was asking us if we wanted to keep her on the machines….dad cried, but said “no, she wouldn’t want this.” We each agreed, except Aimie. “NO! Don’t give up! We can’t give up.”
“Aimie, if God is going to heal her, He can do it without machines.” that’s the best I had. It worked. Though she didn’t seem ready to test it.
“Can we be in the room with her when you turn them off?”
Yes, we could.
We went back in, and this time circled around the bed. We held her hands, we touched her, we cried. The beeping was slowing down, her heart rate was slowing…the machines were turned off, it was getting quieter.
And then, Aimie started to sing. As off-key as you can imagine, we all joined in between sobs.
“Bless The Lord Oh my soul,
Oh oh oh my soul.
Worship His Holy Name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
Worship His Holy Name.”
Over and over and over again…until the beeping had stopped and the machines were completely silent. Nothing left to hear in the room, but 12 members of a broken family pouring their hearts out to their God, singing our mom, wife, grandma home. Singing like never before. Hoping that she somehow knew…that this was somehow conveying to her that we were going to worship God no matter what, we would trust Him even now.
We sang praise to the God who was taking her from us, we sang praise to the one who she was going to see. I hope she knew, I hope she heard. I hope she was proud of the legacy, the lessons, the strength that she had instilled into the 12 in that room. I hope we can carry on in that same manner. Lessons learned, praising God. No matter what.