Saturday, August 2, 2014

Love is Watching Someone Die

"Turn on a little Jack and write away. You really need to start getting it off your chest..." advice from my best friend. Somehow I forget that she knows me so well. She always surprises me with her words of wisdom in my "crisis" moments. Moments that I try so hard to avoid and hide from her. And everyone else.

So here I am trying to write, listening to Jack Johnson and others.

One of those moments happened earlier today. A moment I would rather hide. I had prayer up front for church today. I could barely speak. Tears and snot flowed easier than the words out of my mouth. Finally the "Amen" and I tremble as I walk back to my pew. I wanted to be anywhere else. But the words of my best friend replayed in my head "You have got to get this stuff out of your head". Going home or somewhere to be alone wasn't the solution either. So I force myself to be around people.

So I stay. And after the service is over a dear lady asks the question.

"How are you?"

"Exhausted." I reply honestly.

She knew it was a rough week. I knew it was a rough week. But it's so much more than a rough week.

A family member had a massive stroke while running errands with me. 8 days ago. 4 days ago she went to sleep in Jesus. The 4 days in between the two events was the hard part. The hospital rooms, nurses, drugs pushed into her veins, life shoved out of her, lack of sleep. Breaths more difficult and less frequent with each hour that passed. The hours didn't pass quickly enough.

This isn't my first rodeo. The motions and scenes are so familiar. Too familiar. This is the 5th time I've literally watched a loved one die. But it's not just watching. It's an experience. And it's an honor and privilege. Seriously. An honor and a privilege.

It's not this death that's hard. It's the combination of them all.

I've decided that one is officially an adult when you closely experience death. God bless the children who closely experience death, they must have to grow up all too fast. And thank God I was at least 22 the first time around.

It's the pain and suffering. Even a moment of uncomfortableness for my loved ones. The feeling of no control. Which they too might be feeling. The shallow, hard breaths. The smell. The anxiety. Crushing weight of life coming to an end. Gravity gets heavier. What once was, will be no more. So I absorb as much as I can of them in the last, but also try to let go. It's a battle. 

You'd think it'd get easier each time. But it's harder.

The knowledge and hope of heaven is just that. It's not a pain anesthetic.

"What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie helped me deal with my Grandpas death when I was 22. My Grandpa, who by the way, hung the stars and the moon just for me. Whose face lit up when I entered a room. Who I adored more than anyone.

The lyrics to the song were nearly identical to what I was going through at the time. One line in particular has stuck with me ever since, "Love is watching someone die."

Think about it. I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions.  But Love is watching someone die. And love is God.

Oh the crossroads.

A little over two years ago I left for nursing school across the country. A dream of mine I've put on hold many times for multiple reasons. Some of which were to stay close to my "Star and moon hanger" and the soft landing for my heart which was my grandma.

I took a leap of faith. At 26 almost 27, I trusted my grandma and a big portion of my heart to God. "God, this is the one and only thing that I'm asking you to take care of in my absence. This is the one thing that would keep me from staying focused. Please Lord keep her safe and healthy. I believe you want me to take this step....I am trusting Grandma to you...."

My grandma. Who was like my mother, teacher of so many things. As I grew older, I grew closer to her. She had become one of my best friends. My one constant. My only home I had ever known.

She was a soft landing for my heart. She gave me space to breathe.

My worst fears came to pass. Her health dwindled and I wasn't with her to meet any or every need.

Now I can look back and see everything worked out for the best. My head knows this. My heart struggles. Still.


                     I made it home in time to spend her last 18 hours. My grandma literally drowned in her own fluids. I literally watched her take her last breath. I can replay it in my mind now. And do often.

She suffered. Which caused so much suffering for me.

Why the suffering?

I can honestly say that she never hurt anyone. Sure she wasn't perfect, but she was the most Jesus like person I have ever met. Put others before herself. Never spoke unkindly about anyone. And when unkind words were spoken, she'd say something like, "We don't know what they are going through". Or she would immediately bring out a good attribute.

She never spoke a harsh word to me. And she had me at my worst years, the teenage years. I was such a brat. She took care of me and my family in more ways than I will ever know. She adored my husband and made him feel just as at home as she did me. She Never complained. She didn't have an easy life. And my grandpa wasn't easy to live with. She was classy with a capital C.

She didn't deserve to die the way that she did. And besides, I trusted her to the Lord. The one thing that mattered to me. And there she was drowning in her fluids in front of me.

How can I trust again? If the opposite of what I want happens to the person I care for most... Is anything safe? Is everything fair game?


These are the questions that came back to me this week. Questions I had settled or buried. Or so I thought.


A couple of months ago my friend Megan shared the following on Facebook about her own grandmother's death:

 For all humans, death is a sorrow we must bear... And only in the promise of Jesus can we find peace and hope in the promise of the resurrection of our loved ones at His second coming! "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death." Hosea 13:14In losing my precious Nana- I wondered why such a wonderful person should have to suffer at all in the process of death?! And as I pondered this I thought of our most glorious Savior and how He suffered a cruel and torturous death on a cross... "

Her words struck a heart cord so hard I about fell off my chair. And I had to remind myself of them over and over this week. 
Of all people to walk this planet, Jesus deserved a painful death the least. Less than my Grandma. Less than our dear loved one, Jackie. Less than Blaine. Jesus didn't deserve death at all. Jesus trusted God and look what happened to him. 

It's not that God is cruel. It's this world that we live in. 

Back to the Lady at church.

"Well you look exhausted sweetie. You just need to put some rouge on and a little lipstick and fake it."

I said nothing.

It's taken me 29 years to start to realize that death is an inevitable part of this world. And it doesn't get easier. I'm thankful for the pain. The pain serves as a reminder that death was not intended for us to experience. And some day, death will be nothing but a memory. 

"Jesus wept." John 11:35. 

Love is watching someone die. Jesus didn't fake it. The pain is real. Jesus wept over the death of a loved one. 

God is love. Proven in Jesus' death on the cross and my loved ones death on a hospital bed.

  • Hebrews 2:14-15, CEV. “We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, NKJV. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, NKJV. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'  ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

 I realize as I type these words that I'm exhausted because my heart hasn't found it's safe landing place. Nor have I had much space to breathe in my grandmother's absence. And this quite literally has taken a toll on my own health.

9 days ago I thought I was on the mend. But now I realize the only safe landing/breathing place is in my Heavenly Father. EVERYTHING else is temporary and not guaranteed. Including my husband, my health, success, money, church, any other relationship, etc etc. 

Jackie and I had all kinds of plans eight days ago, a massive stroke was not in our agenda. 

Romans 8:38-39, NKJV. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

 Life is short. Even if blessed with 100+ years. 
Love is watching someone die. God is love.

Jordan, you're right; I should write more often.

Peace & Love, 

PS. Here is the youtube video of the song I mentioned  

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