Sunday, March 10, 2013

You are Beautiful

Grief is so real.  So real, that I've been unable to put it to words for so long.  I threw something out there when we first lost Jeanette, but then the deep pain set in, and words were amiss.  


That wretched day when we had the frantic call in the morning saying, "Not sure what's going on, but find a way to get to the hospital right away!"

I think of my trustworthy friend who lived within a five minute drive.  I don't even know what she had planned for the day, but I know she showed up without hesitation, and didn't let on to my children the inevitable tearing they would experience later in the day.  

It wasn't like we didn't know it was a great possibility, but it all happened so fast.  There was never a chance for her to fight this cancer beast.  So we held out hope, that though she was on a respirator, she would still breathe again on  her own soon...she would hold her grandbabies in her arms again soon.  

Now, soon feels so relative.  In the scheme of eternity, soon still exists.  Soon she'll hold them again, but to us, it feels like eternity is a distant goal.  

I walk in to the still calm room, hear the dreaded respirator, and see my sweet husband cradling his mother's hand against his cheek.  Her eyes catch mine.  I choke back the tears.  Afraid to look weak in her greatest battle.  Wanting to beg her to fight.  As if she hadn't already.  

I loved her.  I can't relate to those dreaded in-laws tales.  She was never that.  She loved and supported me, never criticized, and loved my children with a tangible love.  She was my friend.  She loved me like her daughter. 

Christy comes in and whispers in her ear.  Jeanette tries to communicate that she can't be that close because she feels like she's drowning.  But, we all just want to whisper something, to make it OK, to stop time from moving.  To keep her with us.  Yet, I've never seen such suffering.  Her eyes swollen from her body trying to concede.  Our kind pastor decides to leave for a while, but she knows she won't see him again.  She raises her hand and waves, knowing it's a different kind of "see ya later" this time.  Yet, she did it with a smile of peace in her eyes, not a look of fear or dread.

In the days prior, once we realized she was coherent on her respirator, we hung out together.  I started reading her Psalms, then stopped to ask if that was what she wanted.  She nodded "yes."  The words are full of power, hope, healing, and praise.  In her dying moments, she knew with full confidence that she had a Savior who loved her.  He was looking out for her.  He was her Hope.  He was her Healing.  I cry every time I think of her quiet strength, even in dying.  It was her way always in life, and it's how she left this world...full of quiet strength.  She didn't stop hoping to knew in her eyes that she desperately wanted to spare us this pain, but she saw it her eyes, she knew Who held her.  

Death is like birth  for a Jesus follower.  It's this painful process, but on the other side of that last earthly breath and heart beat, she opens her eyes and sees Him face to face.  And, like a baby, begins to explore her new surroundings.  Like someone loved, she knows it was worth it to believe.  

The doctor wanted to see the family in the other room to explain where Nana was in her fight.  It felt like a swirling room, where all I heard was Reta (Jeanette's mom, the one who's already lost two other of her babies to this Cancer monster) crying, heaving, desperately searching for the doctor to say something other than what she did.  And "blah, blah, blah....heart compressed, spread too fast...blah, blah,...nothing we can do."  Trembling legs, we make that last walk back to her room, where her beloved husband stood by her side...hours upon hours, he waited, paced, encouraged, spoke dreams over her about their future together.  There he sat, saying, "I just want to scoop her up and hold her until it's over."  She...eyes still open...still searching the room for her children's eyes, her grandaughter's eyes, and even mine.  

Until the last few minutes, she was still communicating on her white board we had brought her.  Then, in an insensitive moment, when only myself and her son were in the room, a nurse came in and abruptly announced, "I'm turning off the blood pressure medicine now."  I searched her eyes.  She closed them, knowing it was coming soon.  I searched Joe's.  Pain.  Wretched, desperate pain.  I said, "Find your dad!"  Quickly, all family members were present, except for Reta, as they both knew they couldn't handle that together.  And the most beautiful moments existed, as each member told her they loved her.  Promising to see her soon.  Reminding her how good she was to us.  Allowing her to breathe new in her Father's arms.  Oh wretched pain! The beautiful release.  Such a juxtaposition.  

Today as I listened to a song we had used in her funeral, I was overcome with grief and hope of the future.  Such sorrow to lose such a gem, such beautiful hope to know what she experienced in that moment...well, as well as I could possibly know.

As it says in Phil Wickam's "You're Beautiful," 

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then You died and then You rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You're beautiful, You're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing
You're beautiful

So thankful that we have hope.  

The other song that is similar in meaning, and messes with me every time is, "10,000 Reasons."  

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
10,000 years and then forever more

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name
You saw it in her face while on that respirator, and asking for Scriptures.  She wasn't angry.  She wasn't afraid.  Still her soul sang, "Bless the Lord."  She always wanted to be a good singer.  Now she truly "sings like never before!"