Tonight as I lie on the cot next to my husband’s hospital bed (or next to his recliner when he weakly, and with assistance, walks to it) I am keenly aware that he is slipping away. My aching heart struggles to accept what my mind cannot deny: he’s dying. The nurse in me recognizes the signs. I see his body systems struggling against a tide that will overtake him before long. And I am in shock.
How can it be that my strong, strong rock of a husband is dying??? The cancer is filling his body and robbing me of the man I love one precious cell at a time. Oh the pain is excruciating! Thankfully his pain is well-controlled, at least most of the time. And his body handles the morphine much better than the last pain med hospice tried. When he is awake he is more like himself and not so confused and hallucinating.
Suddenly today I realize, even before the nurse confirms my suspicions, that our time together is agonizingly short. There are so many things I wanted to ask him, some things I still wanted to tell him again, lessons I wanted to learn from this wise man… Letters I wanted to help him write to the children… Now his hand is almost too weak and unsteady to hold a pen and his brain struggles to make sense of what he reads or wants to write. John has gone down hill so fast. We haven’t even been on hospice care for two weeks and I’ll have to make the call for them to pronounce him deceased before many days have passed. Oh, the thought of it knifes my stomach.
And yet, from the ashes of defeat, there are things to be thankful for. We have had rich family times. The children have blossomed in their gentle care of him, especially our 19 year-old, Stan. Many, many times John has been hugged and told how he is loved. And many times his weakened, long arm has reached to encircle the person who proclaims his love and appreciation. We’ve had to limit visits to conserve John’s strength and relieve his weariness, yet he has been blessed by the visits of old friends, family members, and hunting buddies. We’ve had precious times…and John has smiled.
Now his smiles are seldom and his big blue eyes (the thing that first caused my girlish heart to like him) are sad, sad, sad. His haunting gaze follows me and I cannot help but occasionally run away to weep. I have the support of family and friends. I feel the amazing grace of God. But I am losing the man I love and I am distraught.
For weeks I’ve fought to help him live. And now I have to give in and help him die. It was going okay… but today he was quite discouraged and sad and I was weary and fearful of how he may die. God sent caring people my way, including a very patient hospice nurse who talked softly to me and rocked me in my anguish. It happened while we were alone in the house…so the children were spared of seeing me let loose. And yet I ask, why hide my tormenting grief? It is real. I am real. I never was good at being fake. I am weak…but God is strong. And the coming of His strength is dependent on my weakness. “For when I am weak, then am I strong [by the power of God]”
I am amazed how hard the devil works on a dying saint. He ought to show a little respect…yet that is not his way.
Please lift us up in prayer.