The worst nightmare of my life was the last month of my mom’s earthly existence. What started as a desire to have her eyelids lifted to improve her eyesight became 4-way bypass surgery, kidney stones, a blood infection, her body filling with clots, and a massive stroke.
Within a month, she was on a ventilator, and then she was gone. We barely knew what hit us.
That was 2005.
Last month the Lord invited me to provide hospice support to a friend whose mom is in the final lap of her earthly life.
His invitation came in a roundabout way:
I take voice lessons every week. We’ve recently had two deaths in our family, and some other things happen as well that tapped our income. When my husband seemed a bit reluctant for me to continue with the voice coach, I decided that I needed to take a break for a while.
In mid-August, I gave a two-week notice, and said that when I got a job I would reschedule.
That was random. I haven’t worked since 2000.
On my way home, I considered taking a part-time job. I decided to check with some employment agencies on the following Monday. That settled, I got back to work writing posts for my blog.
The following morning, I received a call from a friend whom I hadn’t seen in several years.
“Tami, my mom’s health is failing and I need someone who can help me in the mornings. Every time I thought about hiring somebody, your name came to mind. I thought I’d check to see if you might be interested.”
I laughed, and told her about the conversation I had the previous day with my voice coach. I said that under the circumstances, I felt that this was what I was supposed to do.
With a chuckle, she said, “I hope you’re calling him to get back on his schedule as soon as we hang up.”
I assured her that I would do exactly that!
She asked me to began the following Monday morning.
My job is to physically care for the mom, and provide emotional, physical, and spiritual support and “eyes” for the daughter. The daughter has devoted the last seven years of her life to caring for her parents.
Her father went Home a couple of years ago, so now she cares for her mother. Because of her mom’s medical condition, my friend gets up several times every night to tend to her mom. She’s tired – who wouldn’t be?
Consequently, she’s so close to the situation, that it’s easy to lose sight of the larger picture. That’s where I come in. It’s been amazing to have the Lord show me things that the family needs to address…and then have Him pave the way for these delicate conversations.
While this is a bittersweet time for me (she looks so much like my own mother), I’ve been able to help the daughter think through end-of-life issues that troubled her siblings and her.
I wish I’d had a human come alongside and help me see the scene with greater clarity – and to help me get a handle on things the medical pros around her were overlooking (i.e. either hydrated or pain managed…but not both at the same time. She was bounced back and forth between the medical floor and ICU several times because of this).
At the same time, the Lord Himself was my constant companion in ways I’d never experienced before. His little touches were liberally sprinkled throughout every day. There were visions, glimpses of the spirit realm, timely songs and sermons…even a feather that fell from a bird-less, windless sky.
That’s a story for another day!
The restoration of Mom’s earthly health was not given – but she is eternally healed now! Every problem she had is long gone. While I miss her, I would not wish her back on earth. We’ll be reunited soon enough!
I’m thankful for our journey through the Valley of the Shadow of death – for it is the foundation for my service to this family today. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that we are to comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted. I understand how that works now.
Romans 8:28 tells us that God causes all things to work together for good. Because of what I went through, I can reach out and support someone else in that situation. In a weird way, it makes me thankful that I’ve “been there, done that.”
His timing was (as always) impeccable. If my friend had called the morning before this, I would have referred her to someone else. By the time she called, my mind was settled – I would get a part-time job so I could continue my lessons…assuming that I could. The job market here is tight, and it’s been over a decade since I was last employed.
So today I am – crazy as it sounds – thankful for the journey I made through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with my mother. The lessons I learned there are being put to use today, and are benefiting my dear friends.
While trials are hard to stand through, and often painful, when we stay tenderhearted and teachable through them, the Lord can direct us to others who are dealing with similar trials. If we developed compassion, empathy, and greater faith in the Lord, we can comfort others and help them through their difficulties. When we can do this, it has a redeeming quality to life’s ordeals.
On the other hand, if we become angry and bitter, not only are we unable to help others, and thereby see good come from what seemed so bad, but we are apt to only make things worse. Bitterness taints everything and everyone with which it comes in contact.
Oh, and would You give my mom a hug? 😉
Thank you, Journey of Thankfulness, for bringing this to light. Gratitude changes everything, doesn’t it?