It’s Sunday morning. My son and his new bride are busy in the kitchen making brunch for me- it smells like butter. I love watching them work together in the kitchen – they are new at this dance, each careful not to lead- learning to bless and not just be blessed.
My husband sits in “his chair” watching TV in closed caption so as not to disrupt the music that plays from the laptop sitting on the kitchen table – the chefs dancing music.
My daughter is still sleeping; she has become so lovely and sincerely kind. My youngest son is on his way home from college with his roommate – they will be busting through the door with guitars, laundry, tattered books, back packs and God only knows what else, any minute.
My middle son will not be home today- four more days to go before his curly brown hair and chocolate brown eyes come back home again.
Days like this it is easy to see them- blessings that is. Days like these it’s easy to give my trust away to God… but down the road about 13 miles my mommy and my sister sit quietly together in a clean little apartment with white carpet and a pink couch. The drape is half open and on the small deck there is a large potted plant where tiny purple pansies are learning to grow. On the coffee table is a vase with huge pink and white roses from my sister’s garden. My mom is resting on the couch in her mint green PJs- and pink fluffy socks fitting snug around her swollen feet. I could go on. I could describe almost every detail. I am not there, but I can see it clearly because I have been there more hours lately than I have been home.
My mom is dying. Her heart and her kidneys no longer do their job and every day her weight increases because every ounce of water she takes in stays in. Her tiny legs now weigh so much she needs help lifting them up to the couch.
I have sat for hours and hours with her over the last 3 weeks. I have watched her pace the tiny hall, until her breathlessness sends her back to the couch. She tries to run away from it, her dying body, but everywhere she goes it goes with her. She has spells of profound confusion and then moments of amazing clarity. She smiles when she can but her sweet smiles are fleeting.
I have sat and watched her suffer and I have looked ahead to her impending misery and I pray, “God, please let her die and let me be with her to hold her hand and whisper her to You”. I have pleaded with him to take her. I have held my breath when she has held hers and hoped it was her last, but then she breathes again.
Dying is a holy and amazing thing that is wrapped in pain and suffocating grief. Like my mom- I want to run away from the pain- the pain of watching her suffer. I want to somehow slip back into a life that doesn’t have this as its reality. I find myself longing to do the simple and boring tasks again, like laundry and cleaning and dishes – the normal stuff where you don’t have mortality wrapping around your every thought. But for now, it is every thought.
Oh, how my heart has wrestled with this- should I be praying for her to die? Who am I to ask such a thing? Who am I to ask her heart to stop? The answer is simple- I simply do not have the authority to suggest that I know what is best in this situation. I do not know what God is whispering to her in these hours. I do not know the work he is doing in her heart. I do not know what is best or why it is best. I have watched death many times but I cannot tell you what it feels like to die. I have no idea what happens in the moments leading up to death or the moments of death. I have no idea if it is lovely and light or empty and quiet. So, how can I begin to feel like I can ask for it for someone else? I simply cannot and I must stop believing I do.
I wander out into the fields of coriander and lay down among the wild flowers- my eyes focus on the iridescent blue that wraps around the clouds and for a moment I remember eternity. I know of it, but understand it little-as do I know of death but understand it even less.
Father, I have prayed for things I know nothing about. Help me to trust your timing, remember your faithfulness and believe that you love my mom even more than I do.