Requiem

Morning Study

Dear Russell and Friends,

One of my strongest reasons for belief is the approach that following Christ has given me concerning one of our universal human experiences – – death and loss.  Below is a lightly edited excerpt from my paper journal.  On Wednesday night, my mother went home ten minutes after I kissed her forehead for the last time.  After almost 17 months, the prayer was answered well.

Pascal

–1:16

8/31/13 – – Saturday, 0430 – –

“September tomorrow?  Yes indeed.  What happened this week?  Much.  On Thursday evening Mom fell in her bathroom.  I was on the conference call.  I finished it then headed to the emergency room.  Mom had been x-rayed – – no break — and was given 1/2 of a tablet of mild narcotic.  The nurses changed her and helped us transfer to a wheelchair.  Mom quivered in pain and I tried to occupy her mind with scripture recitation.  We pulled in at 9 pm.  By 9 am yesterday morning Dan was there with Debra.  We had already agreed to increase homecare services to Monday-Saturday 0900-noon.  We talked and I briefed him on her situation.  Previously I had asked him just what they could do for a non-ambulatory person and he described a split shift 0900-noon and 1500-1800.  We both thought she might need that for a while and he called to confirm when he had seen her.

So Lisa mobilized Rachel, who had helped Mom before.  I asked for help on Sundays too – – at least for now.  We went from 10 hrs a week to 42.  What have I been feeling this week?  A very real sense of Mom’s rapid decline and a growing desire that I hesitate to even think.  Father — please take Mom home.  We talked on Sunday after the very difficult church service (it took twenty minutes for my bride to help her to Sunday school after big church).  She was not sure of her salvation.  I sang Blessed Assurance to her.  I taught back scripture to her.  Grace is how we are saved.  It is all from you.  She is terrified.  Oh, to realize the human frailty of your parents.  Oh, to confront your own frailty.  And to fully recognize how weak we really are.  You are humbling me so that Christ may increase in my life.  The part of me that despises weakness does not honor you.  Forgive me please.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12

Jason and I discussed this by phone yesterday.  We’ll have a chance to fellowship in person today.  We thought that this book addressed children as children when we were growing up – – more like – – children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.  Now we realize it is to us in middle age as we have the privilege of this responsibility.  Is it a burden?  Honestly?  Yes.  But you said – – come to me with your burdens – – I’ll relieve you.  I need that rest.

It is more than a burden.  It is a holy obligation.  Why do I pray that you would take her home?  I prayed it with Dad when his mind failed and his body started to waste.  That decline was occurring 5 years ago.  He died in March 2009.  So — September 2008 – – was it beginning?  I believe so.  We moved him to the nursing home in October or November.

Father, I understand (I’m still learning) that life is a precious gift.  You gave it and only you can take it away.  I struggle with the tension that is future minded – – the focus on an eternity with you – – versus present aware – – our creation on this earth is a glorious gift.  Mom is in pain and is not at peace.  She is chair bound and won’t read or even listen to the radio.  Please take her home and show her that your grace has always covered her.

Then I would lay her to rest next to Dad.  I will likely have her remains cremated.  I think that’s what I want for me.  From dust I came to dust I will return.  Cremation, then a headstone next to Dad.  I would ask Pastor to give a funeral message for our family and the ladies in her Sunday school class.  Please bring me closer to you through this.  Let me realize that my body and mind may fail.  Let me recognize that my strength is declining even as my sons’ strength rises.

Help me to be a wise steward of every resource that is yours – – strength, wisdom, favor, time, talent, treasure – – all yours.  Audit my heart and straighten my path.  Revise my desires to please you.  Given me the right desires.  Author them.  Make me a man that loves you and others.”

 

4 comments

  1. The song linked above is “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin. I sang it to my mother-in-law in her final moments—she exhaled for the last time at the end of the second verse.

    I sang it to your mom, too, although by that time, the second verse meant a whole lot more to me than it had before, and I could barely get through it. Your mom and I had some level of doubt in common. And I had this sense that hers wouldn’t resolve until her life ended—perhaps she would awake to certainty. Maybe mine won’t resolve until the end either. When the shadows disappear.

    “There’s a day that’s drawing near
    When this darkness breaks to light.
    And the shadows disappear
    And my faith shall be my eyes.”

    Thank you for sharing your words from August 2013 with us. Thank you for sharing your mom with us. Thank you for sharing your heart with us in friendship. Russell and I love you deeply, and our thoughts and prayers are so often for you and your family. You’re one of the most self-sufficient people I know, and I know that her burden and your burden for her has lifted—but there still must be some level of heartache and unexpected loneliness when the last remnant of what brought you to existence is gone. I wish I had something to offer you, but the only thing I can offer is words, and there aren’t any that are good enough. You definitely don’t want me to cook for you—Russell can tell you that. 😉

    If you need anything, you know where to find us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Pascal (I so want to write your real name here),

      I can’t imagine what you’re experiencing. To the extent that I’m able, I do share your deep sorrow. I also share in your gratitude for the ending of her pain as well as the celebration of her life. From what I knew of her, she left a legacy of love. I know she adored you.

      Thank you so much for sharing your journal entries. I’ve always wondered about their content and format, and this excerpt says everything that anyone needs to know about you.

      When my wife sang that song to my mom, the one she shared with your mom, it tore me apart at so many levels. You’re right about the power of faith in times of loss and death. I’m so glad you have that faith with you now, and I hope you continue to rely upon it as a refuge each time the storms of emotion begin to peak.

      Also, if you find yourself in need of relief, the presence of children – in flesh or in thought – tends to be a powerful salve. They are partially a result of her life and a part of her that remains. You are too, but it’s often difficult for us to look at ourselves from that perspective. The children bring the hope found in potential – a future legacy of unknown love and strength in this life and the next – and laughter. Before too long the best remedy may be that frisbee.

      You should know that I’m praying for you, your wife, each of your children and your other family that I know about. Yes, actual prayers. I’m also praying about the opportunities that might arise during your upcoming encounters with your sister and other wider family.

      Despite the assurance of faith and your mental preparation, my experience is that a mother’s passing can still be accompanied by grief, agony, a sense of loss, and a longing for another chance to be together. And time is far too slow in dimming those emotions. We know you’re strong and you have a good support system (as do your wife and children) but we also know this is hard. So seriously, if you need anything, please call.

      I’m so sorry. We’ll talk soon.
      –Russell

      Like

  2. Pascal,

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The journal entry was powerful. I can’t say I was successful in holding back tears. I can relate somewhat with both of my parents currently declining in different ways. Your kindness and heart for people is so clearly evident in your writing. And you are so right that life is so precious.

    I’m so sorry for your loss Pascal. I sincerely hope for a healing that brings you peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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