You can travel with a person only so far in this life, then comes that moment where you or them must go down the road alone. Death is always a road that each of us will have to travel alone; alone on this side of life, but there is someone who picks up the journey on the other side.
Less than 6 months ago, I was watching my mother as the doctor told everyone in the room that my mother had cancer throughout her body.
I finally asked the question that everyone wanted to ask, but was afraid to ask. “How long does she have?”. Up to this moment we were just looking at her to recover from a broken leg, her being 93 years old we thought it might take a while. But until she broke her leg, she was pretty healthy and independent, walking and driving herself wherever she wanted to go. But now 6 weeks later the doctor tells us she dying, with about 3 months to possibly live.
After everything was said and the doctor left, I looked straight into my mom’s eyes, and asked if she was ok. I don’t know what I was looking for, but I felt like an outsider trying to look into an almost forbidden area.
I know my mother is a Christian and that being 93 years old, death has to be somewhere on her mind. But now, knowing her time is short, what was she thinking? Was she afraid or what? Her response to me was, “I’m fine, it’s going to be ok.”
The next day, while everyone was waiting for my mom to be taken to a Hospice Care Facility, my mom was gazing at the wall. My sister-in-law asked my mom, “What are you thinking about?” My mom’s response was, “Jesus, I’m thinking about Jesus!”
We decided that we didn’t want our mom to be alone, so we started staying overnight, making sure our mom was as comfortable as possible and that she wasn’t alone. The pain medication kept my mother asleep much of the time, so she probably didn’t know if we were there or not.
It’s a helpless feeling, knowing you can’t help; you can only watch over the person you love. I’ve known her all of my life and she was slowly slipping away and I couldn’t stop it. (I could only watch.)
When awake, I started reading to her, (she wanted me to read the bible to her), so I started the book of John. And, when she got tired, I’d sing a few songs to her; the first time I sang to her, she raised up a little and asked me, “Billie, when did you learn to sing?” Strange some of the things people don’t know about us.
By day four after my mom coming to the Hospice Care Facility, I could see that we didn’t have 3 months, but just a few days. So we called all of the family and told them it looks like she won’t make it through the weekend.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, but ready or not, that’s what I had to do. I could hardly recognize my mother as she laid there. It was heartbreaking to sit there and not be able to do anything. Watching how each breath was labored and a struggle for her. I found myself doing what I never thought I would do. I prayed for the Lord to be merciful and to not let her suffer any longer.
I was now the outsider, I could only pray to the one who wasn’t. As I held her hand, (she wasn't awake or aware of our presence by now). I told my mom, "I love you!” And then I told the Lord, “I know this is as far as I can walk with her. And as I let go of her hand, I’m going to believe that you are going to take it and lead her where I can’t.” I then kissed her hand and walk into the hallway; allowing others to say their goodbyes.
As I came into the hallway, the chaplain came to see how I was; but before he could finish his question, the nurse motioned to him that my mother had just passed away. It seems that just as soon as I let her hand go, that Jesus walked her home.
As an outsider I watched, my mom showed no fear; I saw that when death comes, that even though there are people surrounding you, it’s a road you travel alone. (Or, is it?)
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. “Psalms 116:15)”
It was one of the hardest positions I have ever been in, watching and waiting with my mom; but I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. I saw the mercy of the Lord, instead of suffering 2 to 3 months, she passed just in 6 days from the time she was told she had cancer; mercy for her and us.