Last night my sister was supposed to have driven in from New Mexico. She’s staying at my mother’s house and I’ve not yet called over there to wake her up, but I’m trusting she’s there. We meet with the Hospice nurse at 10am in my mother’s room. Though it’s possible that meeting will not be needed.
They did the endoscopy yesterday and found that Mother’s stomach is not emptying. It was full of grunge and bile and acid. Acid is backing up the esophagus and eroding its lining. This is on account of the cancer in the pancreas and the liver which cause the nerves of the stomach to stop functioning. Basically it’s paralyzed. Her pain has increased tremendously, and when I told one of the doctors that today she was indicating it ran in a band across her belly he said that was from the pancreas. Basically she’s got major abdominal organ failure going on and there’s nothing they can do. I asked him for a guess on how long she had and he said less than a day.
She was sleepy and out of it all day yesterday. Her breathing is scary. It keeps stopping for a long time, then starting up again, like someone with sleep apnea. When she’s awake her mouth is so dry and she articulates so poorly I mostly can’t understand her. And I have no idea if she understands me. However, at the end of the day as the room grew darker, I sat there watching her settle down after the ordeal of having a Foley catheter placed and began to wonder why the Lord had set it up so that it all came so fast. I thought we’d have time to have that spiritual conversation; now, between the morphine and the dry mouth it seemed we never could.
He suggested I try it right then. I argued with Him for a bit, but finally pulled the chair over to the bed. I think she woke up on her own and not me doing it (my memory’s all jumbled). I told her I’d called my sister and she said “No!” (Because Deb would be all freaked) I told her she didn’t have a lot of time and that she should consider believing in Jesus. She was trying to tell me something but right then a group of people walked by in the hall outside talking loudly so I went and closed the door.
Then I came back to the bed and she managed to ask me to tell her what they’d found in the endoscopy. When I told what they found, she was quite distraught. It’s good I’m writing this because I can’t think about it without crying. Anyway, she was crying herself and said, “You mean I’m not going to get better from this?” And I said, “No.”
I think I will remember that moment, her expression, the tone of her voice for the rest of my life.
I can no longer remember the chronology of the conversation, only that I told her again that she needed to believe in Jesus. That He was real. That He died for her, He loved her, he wanted her to be with Him. I told her that she would get a new body, and be with Him forever, and she had only to believe. She could do it just in her mind: “Father, I believe in Jesus” (Pastor Rory’s five word conversation) I told her “I know it’s easy for us, but that’s because it was not easy for Him.”
And then I was quiet and she lay there with her eyes closed. Expressions seemed to twitch on her face as if she were thinking; her brow creased, and presently she started to nod and say “uh huh, uh huh…” Then she opened her eyes and looked at me and said, “Uh huh.”
On the one hand it seemed like she was thinking about what I’d said and saying yes. But she could have just wandered off and who knows? I waited, almost certain at one point that she was on the verge of confirming with actual words that she had believed, but she didn’t. Then it was over and she fell back into twitching and low cries and finally went to sleep. So I have no idea if she made any sort of decision, but she knows the end is near now, and I said the words. God the HS will have to do the convicting inside. I probably won’t know until heaven, but then Pastor’s been talking about that for some time — not knowing til we get there. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have said what I did, though.
Not long after that, I left for the night and walked down the long, long main hall toward the front door, which after having been a bustle of people going here and there all week, was suddenly deserted. There was no one else there but a lone woman walking toward me carrying a pot of three white lilies. Lilies: Resurrection Life, our Lord Himself, and three of them for the trinity. She walked toward me, then past me, and on, never making eye contact, heading in the direction from which I had come: toward my mother. I believe it was no coincidence. God holds every moment of our lives in His hands. There are no coincidences. And though I’d seen many people with flowers and balloons in that hall during the week… there’d been no one with white lilies. Until then.
I know it was a gracious sign from God that my mother did indeed believe.