Notes on dying: A messy commentary.

As many of you already know, my stepmom, Diane, has been battling lung cancer for quite some time.  Although we have known for a while, I don't think anything could have prepared us for the challenge of these last days.

On Thursday morning the hospice nurse told my dad that she thought Diane would not make it through the day.  Kyle and I booked it up to Greenview as fast as we could, and we arrived in what we thought was just the nick of time.  When we walked in, the pastor along with our family was praying over her, asking the Lord to guide her home in peace.  When the prayer was over, everything got very still and we all thought she was gone or almost gone.  Soon, however, she became restless and began a long night of groaning, gasping, and laboring to breathe and stay comfortable.

Seeing her struggle so much is painful for everyone.  My dad has barely left her side.  I do not know how the man has a teardrop left in him, but somehow they just keep flowing.

We were up intermittently with her through the night trying to keep her comfortable and help her rest.  We finally got her to be still, and she has been heavily sedated all day.  Right now, we all agree that she is in some kind of semi-coma.  We can't rouse her to take meds, get a drink, or do anything.  She's been sitting in the same position, slumped over her bedside table, for over two days straight.  We didn't hear her say a word today.  We all keep thinking, "Any time now..." And still, she breathes.

It is awful to see her body struggle, to see her suffering and groaning.  One of my many prayers today was that she would love Jesus more, and know him better in her suffering.  Jesus suffered the most brutal and unfair murder and death of all time, a blameless man, a gruesome death.  I pray that as she suffers, in whatever state her mind is in, somehow she would be able to love Jesus more because of the price he paid on our behalf, the price that we all deserve.

I have never physically suffered the way that Diane is.  I have never seen anyone physically suffer the way that she is.  I pray I never have to see this again, but I am so proud to say that she has lived out Philippians 1, she has been humble, thankful, and compliant.  She doesn't complain. She murmurs a thank you (or a moan that we know means thank you) to anyone who washes her, rubs her back, or puts a little water on her tongue.  She reminded me of this old Mark Driscoll quote (that I will now butcher) "When you bump a cup full of bitter water, bitter water pours out of it.  When you bump a cup of sweet water, sweet water pours out of it."  There is no bitterness in this woman.  No matter how much she suffers, God has filled her with sweet, sweet water, and no amount of hardship will make her pour out bitterness.

I am incredibly and especially grateful for three of my amazing, all-star aunts and my grandparents, who keep bringing everyone food, providing laughter, and just generally being awesome at loving us.  Each of them is a gift and breath of fresh air.  I did not want any of them to leave tonight, and even got a little teary, because they just make everyone feel so much better in this house.

There are just so many things I am trying to process, and my mind is clouded and confused with a haze of joy and sorrow.  I became increasingly anxious throughout the day today.  To distract myself, I decided I needed to make a slideshow for Diane.  I think I drove everyone else crazy in my quest to get it done, but I felt like it was the only thing I could do to be helpful and do something meaningful.  I have scoured the house, my computer, and my dad's computer for every picture I could find that would paint a picture of who Diane is and what she means to all of us.  I will likely collect more up until the time of her visitation, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some photos here.

We are all still grateful for your love and prayers.  I have been really bad about responding to all the texts, emails, and Facebook messages, but I have read every one, and even shared some with my dad.  They are so, so awesome.  Thank you all for loving on us from afar.  It is more than we deserve!


sarah said...

this is so similar to my aunt's last days. your description is exactly what it was, and i am so very sorry that you are all going through these trials. it is an incredibly difficult time.

at our small group on thursday, the leader's wife mentioned a book that suggested God was "building a museum" of His faithful followers. He can point to the ones who are faithful through suffering and say to the enemy, "look, this one is Mine, and she has been faithful even through this." i thought of your stepmom and wanted to tell you.

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

I truly believe the hospice is a wonderful service for those passing from this life into the Eternal. I have experienced it from the side that you are with my grandmother and my husband's grandfather. It is so incredibly tough. Know that the time is short and that she will soon be with her Savior and in no more pain. I am so sorry that you have to lose her in this way.

Staci Britz said...

Impressive, thank you for sharing all the wonderful photos! Diane and your Dad are so good together and she is so blessed to have such a wonderful blended family! I worked with Diane and have met very few people as intelligent, considerate, beautiful on the inside and out, helpful, hard working, warm and caring as she. It saddens me to know we're losing a truly blessed soul. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.