Daily Archives: February 6, 2009

Going Home and going home

I can’t go further without thanking someone so dear to our family. Pastor Tommy Moore. We grew up in Carmel Assembly of God Church and raised our family there. There has never, in the history of the Church, been a pastor as caring and protective over his flock as Pastor Tom. Even when the family moves and has to change churches. Thank you Thomas Earl (my name for him), for being the brother-in-Christ that you are—and for loving our family as you do.

Around 10:00 p.m. on Monday night, after much singing, praying and praising the Lord, we sent my husband, Jeff; Aimee’s husband, Juno; and mother’s sweet husband, Grandbuddy (our name for him), to the motel to sleep. Promising to call them with changes. Our home church pastor Tommy Moore, stayed with us. He had driven Juno down after he preached on Sunday and remained by Mark’s side. Tommy and Wanda had graduated high school together and our families are very close.

The monitor numbers had not changed in any significant amount and we felt like it could possibly be days before she (Wanda) left us. Mother, Aimee and I, went around the corner to a little waiting room to pray and get a bit of shut eye. During which time we talked a bit privately, sharing our feelings, sharing some memories that were personal to us and sharing most importantly, that our faith remained in what God decided to do.

A woman that worked in the hospital came in to “play on the computer” and eat her ‘noisy’ snack of potato chips and very smelly burger. Now get this picture with me. The room is fairly large. Has a love seat, some chairs and a square coffee table. On one side there was a work table for patients to do crafts, and on the other side an organ. Books were along one wall for children with a locked cabinet for the craft supplies. The lights were off. We were talking in hushed tones, being the only ones in there, we were in a spiritual mode of resting. Not really able to sleep, but yet, we each arranged our tired bodies as best we could in the chairs, with legs dangling and our heads in odd positions, almost as a hat set askew on our heads, to try and sleep —if sleep would only come.

In our extremely exhausted state, everything was amplified. Every noise. Every click of the computer keys. Did I mention she had potato chips?? We toss. Crunch. We turn—if you can actually ‘turn’ in a chair—Crunch. We look at each other. Crunch. Click Click Click.

I have to be honest with you all here. I was mad. I wanted to scream. I wasn’t necessarily mad at the woman—well—sort of. But I was mad that things were winding up this way. CRUNCH. Mother looked at me. We all sort of took deep breathes. I am certain the woman with her back to us could FEEL the tension in the room. I wanted to scream at her—“Look lady—my sister is dying—right down the hall! COULD YOU PLEASE SHOW A BIT OF RESPECT HERE! COULD YA?” Yes, I wanted to …but no. I didn’t.

I got up several times and went back to the room. (If I didn’t—I would have probably laid that woman out flat.) The sounds in Wanda’s room–brought me back to reality. The sounds of her breathing. In. Out. The tears continually coming down Marks face as he sat there, wiping her mouth or forehead. She never knowing—he always loving. And Pastor Tom. He never left Mark or Wanda’s side. That’s reality. Living and dying. There are always distractions in life (like SweetPea Paula said this week) to get your focus off of what is going on. But we MUST keep our eyes and hearts focused on the bigger picture. WHAT IS GOD DOING in our lives and through the situation. Girls, no matter what it is—how difficult or easy—He has a plan in mind through it all.

Within an hour Tommy text-messaged us to come back. Her heart rate had dropped. But when we entered the room and began talking to one another—asking questions, her heart rate came right back up. We lingered, praying quietly and singing softly. After about another hour, Aimee and I went to the chapel and mother went back to the waiting room to try and sleep. (The noisy chip eater was gone–PTL). We had been in the chapel for about 30 minutes when we got a text from Tommy, come back. We went by and got mother and decided not to call the men yet. We felt they needed to sleep. And—probably—this would be the same thing. Watching the numbers go up and down.

Before we walked in, I took mother’s hand and said to her and Aimee, “let’s be real quiet this time–I think our talking is disturbing her”. So we entered and all knelt around the bed and laid our hands on Wanda. I took one hand, Aimee took the other. Mark had been loving on her sweet face and mother’s hand rested on her leg. We all began to quietly pray. For mercy. For grace. For peace. For the help we needed to let go.

As the tears fell, and we began to release her, I watched the numbers began to change. They started slowly dropping. We felt, more than saw, something spiritual taking place. It was as if a Presence had entered the room and was taking her lovingly by the hand.

As the heart line became straight, I felt in my spirit her take her leave. As a music conductor holds his wand for the high note to be reached, I felt her soar up off that bed and into His waiting arms. In one gentle sweeping motion of the Conductor’s Arm…she was gone. She was healed. She was breathing celestial air…without any help from any breathing apparatus. She was whole. For the first time in her life.

I remember Aimee telling me that as we were kneeling by Wanda’s bed, she glanced at mother, to make sure she was okay—the nurse-daughter instinct. She said that mother’s face held a look of pained intensity—as a woman does when she is pushing with all her might and body to give birth to the life trying so hard to get out. If you think about it in life giving terms—that’s what was happening. Wanda was leaving this shell—this mortal—for that immortal life. She was being birthed into the eternal. And mother was releasing her once again. The bodily fluids lost by mother this time though, were the rivers of tears falling to the bed.

When the nurses came in, in response to the alarm on the monitors, they turned off the alarm and were very tender toward us. They notified the doctor on call and he came quickly. Aimee and I had stepped out of the room briefly to call the sleeping men. We returned just as the doctor pronounced her “gone”. I don’t like the word dead. I didn’t use it then—and I don’t use it now. The dictionary defines “dead” as, no longer living; deprived of life…but she was living! She was FAR FROM DEPRIVED OF LIFE! It was a life that we can not even imagine!

As we stood in the room, waiting for our husbands, we all were praying. You will think this strange—but we were praising the Lord. I know that so many would find that so hard to believe! But God had given us an awesome gift! Wanda’s faith was incredible—and it spread over into our lives in such a wonderful way. As we were standing, with arms raised toward heaven, thanking the Almighty for the gift of mercy and grace—I felt mother touch my back, almost as if she was wanting to get closer. But when I opened my eyes, mother was further down to my left. The touch came from my right. Aimee was across the room on the other side of the bed. I turned around and no one was there. Maybe it was an angel. Maybe it was God’s gentle way of allowing Wanda to say goodbye. I felt His love. More than I can say.

A few hours later, we left the hospital to drive home. Home. What did it mean to me? Surely I would never look at anything the same. Jeff and I drove Mark’s car home. Pastor Tom drove Mark. I sat in the seat that Wanda had just a few days before. I leaned it all the way back to shield my face from passing cars. I wept quietly. As Jeff made a few phone calls, he wept openly. Hardly able to talk at times. That was my total undoing.

I am leaving this post as is. Only minor details were left out. I was glad she didn’t leave on the 11th, for that is Grandbuddy’s birthday. Nor on the 14th…for Mark always celebrated the sweetheart day with much grandeur. Those days needed to retain their good memories. But she left us right in the middle. On the 12th. God knows what is best for all His beloved children. Even when we can’t see His plan for the tears in our eyes…it’s still exists. We must keep trusting. Just as Wanda did. Although she didn’t know the “whys” —she trusted.

So do I.

Today, we leave for vacation. I have 3 more posts regarding this time last year. I will save them until I return. Next week is the 12th. Aimee and I will be together sharing memories of Wanda while we are on vacation. Mother is in Israel. God is working incredibly sweet blessings in Mark and Victoria’s life. They are doing very well. I thank you for all your prayers.

Just in case you are worried about our new baby Lucy—someone will be staying in our house and looking after her. She has been a fun blessing. Oh—maybe you don’t know about Lucy. Well—scroll down until you see the brown-eyed beautiful lab-mix.

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While We Were Waiting

We stayed by her bed. Off and on each taking turns.

The room was small and we went out from time to time to give other family members a minute…but Aimee, mother and I were claiming our place by her side. I was up and down, having trouble sitting still from the back problem I had encountered in November. I would try and walk –never leaving the room for long—fearing what might happen if I did. I was dealing with my emotions as best I could. Aimee, the loving nurse-sister was able to understand more of what was actually going on than the rest of us.

Of course, Mark rarely left her side. Not even for food. When they told us they would do all they could to keep her comfortable, he never left her again. No naps, no food. We brought food into him, he ate some, picked mostly.

I take that back on the no naps. On Sunday night, in a brief 20 minute nap, the man snored so loud while we were keeping watch, that I figured the nurses could hear him. It became quite comical to Aimee and me. Little Wanda never knew. As her body processes began to slow, she had been less “with us” and more “somewhere else” over the past few hours. The minutes ticked by slowly, just watching the monitor and it’s glaring digits.

After her doctor informed us that she was not having any kidney output, and that tests had shown her kidney function had all but ceased, she knew what was next. She was an incredibly loving doctor and had talked to Mark about “releasing” Wanda, and that we each needed to do the same. We in turn, began to go to her and love on her and tell her that it was okay that she left us. It really wasn’t okay with us. But in the deepest part of my heart, I knew that she would be whole again with Him.

So, with tears and severe heartache like we had never before experienced we each did as the doctor instructed. We had been singing to Wanda, songs of praise, like “As Long As I Have Breath…I will praise You Lord”…and other such worship songs. The Presence of the Holy God could be felt. After I spoke to her again, I slipped out of the room to go to the bathroom. I regret my bladder keeping me from hearing her voice for the last time.

On Monday morning, Wanda spoke her last words. Talking had become so difficult—requiring far too much breath and effort. Even today, her words ring in my heart. As she looked up at Mark very solemnly she said, “I don’t understand….(long pause)….we trusted God….(long pause for breath)….but….I still….trust Him“. The last five words were said with a resolute firmness of one who has walked through the fire and seen the reward up ahead.

And trust Him she did. With every single ounce of flesh and blood she possessed. A short while later, she lapsed into a semi-coma like state. We continued to sing over her…we talked about who would be in her “greeting party” upon entering those Gates. Even in our tired delirium, we laughed quite a bit about silly memories, and funny family stories. My sister Aimee kept us in stitches as she shared funny antics of her teenage son.

And then we’d cry.

A whirlwind of emotions. Aimee, mother and I had only been to bed for an hour on Monday afternoon. That evening after much prayer and talking and singing, we felt that it could be another couple of days. Her heart beat was very strong, although she never gained consciousness again.

I told mother, I think Wanda was floating somewhere between her body on the bed and her heavenly destination and she was getting a big kick out of all the singing, stories and laughter. When we looked into her eyes, which could not completely close, we couldn’t see Wanda anymore. I think that even then, she was preparing to leave us soon.

I clung to a sweet memory from when we entered the room that Sunday morning. Aimee was searching for something behind Wanda in the cabinet. I was sitting directly in front of her. She rarely spoke. She had no energy. I searched her face for signs that she completely understood what we said. She did. I asked her a question and got no answer. Just a puzzled look. I asked her again. She looked at me and smiled and said, “I’m thinking.” With a brilliant, sister-shared smile, my eyes filled. I knew that spectacular smile would soon be witnessed by our loved ones who were waiting for her There.

A quick note to my sweet readers. I’m almost done. Just a few more posts. I know some of you were with me last year when all of this happened. I wasn’t able to share this last year. I was too raw. It was too hard. It hurt too bad. Today, the pain is different. I KNOW I will see her again. Perhaps very soon. “No man knoweth the day or the hour the Son of Man cometh”…I intend to be ready. If I can encourage anyone to make sure they have their hearts in tune with God—that you give EVERY thing in your life to Christ—holding nothing back—I ask you to simply examine your life. Talk to the Savior. He’s always ready to listen.

Thank you all for your patience and your comments. I have not had a chance to respond to everyone….but I will. You have all blessed me with your ear and shoulder more than you realize. I love you dear sisters!