Why is everyone acting normally? People buzzing place to place, honking, cutting into lanes. Impatient customers shuffling in lines, inwardly cursing at the delay. Women meeting friends for lunch catching up on the latest gossip. Church members greet one another seeming to have no cares, fidgeting through sermons, following time honored rituals week after week. Children still attend school, turn in homework, go to ball practice day after day, week after week. Even nature seems unaware, allowing the sun to shine while my world falls apart.
Living in a bubble of reality known only to myself, I struggle through my days, hopeless and helpless. For weeks now I sit quietly in this hospice room, hoping and praying for a miracle to intervene in my mother's life, or a last opportunity to tell her I love her. Hour after hour, holding her hand, singing “Day By Day”--that hymn whose words have come to mean so much to both of us over these last few months. Words posted in my car and on my bathroom mirror:
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, it's part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day the Lord himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares he fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
The protection of his child and treasure
Is a charge that on himself he laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me he made.
Help me then in ev'ry tribulation
So to trust thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within thy holy word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.
Lyrics: Karolina Sandell-Berg
Music: Oskar Ahnfelt
Time crawls by in that tiny room while outside life races on. How can that be? Don't they understand the world has changed drastically?
I long to hear her voice but better this “uncommon” sleep than the weeks of pain that preceded it and the subsequent nightmares. The medical staff do not understand how she can hang on for so long. Perhaps she needs permission to meet her new future.
After agonizing weeks of watching my mother die by inches, the Lord seems to be preparing us for her entrance into heaven. My stepfather, unwell himself, has faithfully sat beside her bed each day, holding her hand. Most of her children are able to visit only on weekends, traveling those distant miles weekend after weekend without fail.
But on this Monday morning, my oldest brother has stayed over. “Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was her crowning day?” he asked me.
I whisper to her that her graduation day is near and she will be graduating with highest honors, that it will be the commencement of a new life, free from pain and suffering. I assure her that we will be all right, reminding her that she had put us in God's hands long ago, her job complete, and asking her to imagine the grand reunion with her family reunited.
Playing tapes of her favorite hymns, on “Whispering Hope” she took one final breath and entered the gates of glory as a peace that passes all understanding enveloped our hearts.
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