It’s 12:20am and I just finished my black belt candidate exercises on the floor of my parent’s spare bedroom. We have to do them every day, no matter what. It’s technically tomorrow but since I just got home from the hospital being with my mom, I’m counting them for Friday.
Spiritually I feel wrapped in unspeakable grace. I feel peace and energy flowing through me even though my mom’s deterioration progresses. It makes no human sense why I’m not crumbled on the floor. It’s grace through and through, the answered prayers of countless people.
I rushed to San Jose after my dad told me he was taking my mom to the ER again. I made record time in the should-be-stopped-on-the-freeway-for-hours-why-would-you-leave-at-4:20pm-during-Friday-rush-hour traffic. Miraculously, I had only a couple of minutes of a slowed pace; it seemed as though a wall of angels pushed everyone along so I could get to my mom. I listened to Chip Ingram’s Living on the Edge podcasts about pressing on in the face of adversity. It felt like God was putting an invisible and impenetrable armor on me as I drove. God bless Chip Ingram.
My dad and I sat in the ER with my mom as she drifted in and out of consciousness. When my eldest son called and asked to talk with Grandma I nervously put the phone to her mouth. I didn’t want him to be scared that she couldn’t speak, but I told him to hang on.
“Ok, say hi to Grandma, honey. I have you on speaker phone so she can hear you.”
“Hi, Grandma! I love you.”
“Hi, Honey. I love you, too.” she mustered.
That was the most conscious and alert I saw her. From that moment on her condition worsened.
Eventually it got so bad my mom couldn’t swallow and she couldn’t speak to us. The nurse had put a pill in her mouth, but it sat dissolving on her tongue. She sat frozen and just stared in our eyes. I knew she was in there, but was trapped by some unknown force. I moved in closer and said, “I see you, Mom. I know you’re trying.”
I saw her effort. She was really trying to drink it down, but her brain couldn’t make the connection.
I stood with my face about 8 inches from hers and said, “You’re working so hard, Mom. C’mon, just swallow. You can do It. I’m so proud of you.” She nodded and was telling me with her eyes that she just couldn’t swallow it. Finally, I figured out a trick to get her to spit it out.
No more pills for mom.
“That’s ok, Mom. You’re going to be better tomorrow. You’re just tired and dehydrated.”
It was past 11pm and we knew we needed our rest. I can’t describe the feeling of leaving my helpless mom in the hospital. As we were leaving, my dad tried to get her to talk, but she just couldn’t. He said goodbye to her, kissed her, and told her that he loved her and he knew she loved him, too, even though she couldn’t tell him.
These are the moments that rock my daughter’s heart. My dad’s losing the love of his life…and I’m witnessing it.
After he left the room I went to her side and looked into her eyes. “Mom. I love you.” I could tell she was trying to say something but couldn’t. ” Mom. I need to hear you tell me you love me. Please say it before I go.” I pleaded.
” I love you.” She blurted out.
I’ve never heard such a beautiful sound in all my life. I could tell it took enormous effort for her to say those words to me.
” Thank you, Mom. Thank you for telling me. I’ll see you in the morning. You’re going to feel better tomorrow. Just rest, ok?” She nodded and started to gaze passed me, and I knew I’d lost her again.
I floated out of the room with my heart full of joy. This woman blows me away. And God’s peace in what should be the most awful experience blows me away.
It’s a painful tether between wanting her here and wanting her to be with The Lord so she can be whole and well.
We’re praying for a miracle. But I’m learning to add, “Thy will be done.” 4 words of surrender; 4 words that allow me to remain in the moment and fully love, regardless of tomorrow.
All of this reminds me that nothing is more important than love: Our love for God and our love for others. Everything else is futile and meaningless.
May we live today like tomorrow is Heaven.