The dying process is not an easy one. The end of the story is unknown. It is a "one day at a time" existence. The limits of energy and endurance are all too apparent. No one knows which walk is the last one or which word is the last spoken until the last breath is taken. Those helping and watching cannot predict the time or day that the journey will end. It feels like the world is holding its breath and waiting...just waiting.
I remember my sister, Loralee, with tears in her eyes as she took a picture of Doug and Christina out on an evening walk. She wondered if she would ever photograph them again.
Each word Christina spoke was noted carefully. Would it be her last coherent thought?
Each visit with her might be the last. Should we say our goodbyes now?
In the midst of all these uncertainties, we talked about what was certain. We talked often about Jesus' care for her--that He was right by her side. Psalm 23 was quoted often. Knowing that Jesus was walking through the valley of the shadow of death with her brought her great comfort.
Near the end (May 30th), she asked about the Bible passage that talked about Jesus carrying her. I read out loud Isaiah 40:11.
"He tends his flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young."
She said, "I am a lamb so He is carrying me. I can feel it." And then, "I have young. Isaiah. So He is gently leading me."
I was amazed that she put that all together. Her mind functioned best when she focused on Jesus. She said, "I am so weak. Maybe if I raise my hand up, Jesus will gently lead me." She asked me to help hold her hand up. I, of course, wondered if Jesus was going to take her at that very moment.
The next day she grabbed my hands and asked me if I could feel "both". She said that she wanted me to feel "both". I believe she was talking about being held by Jesus and being led by Jesus. She knew that Jesus had spoken to me 5 years earlier about leading me (as a mom) through this cancer journey with my "young". Truly, what He was doing for Christina, He was doing for me.
On June 1st, she said, "Tell everyone that I am trying really hard, even though it doesn't look like it." Christina was making a supreme effort to stay conscious. She had multiple tumors eating away at her brain and she fought like a warrior to keep her thoughts from becoming muddled. Scripture, worship, and prayer always brought her back from the edge of confusion. What a great gift to our hearts.
That night, I prayed through many things and I asked, "Lord, are my emotions OK? Too much? Not enough?"
There is no handbook for appropriate emotion in situations like this. The next day (June 2nd), I was sitting on the bed next to her. To my surprise, she began to try and move herself closer to me. She eventually managed to sit up and lean fully against me with her head on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her and she began to massage my arms. (She was always a giver.) I began to recite in her ear all the scripture we leaned on so heavily. And then I began to sing the worship songs we depended on.
I sang "There is a Redeemer" by Keith Green.
I started with
There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son
Precious, Lamb of God, Messiah
When I got to the chorus,
Thank you, Oh my Father
For giving us your Son....
I burst into tears. I could not stop crying. I began to worry that this would upset Christina terribly.
Christina said calmly, “He wrote that prayer for you.”
She said, “The one you just sang.”
Then she reached for something and said, “I am supposed to gather these up.”
I said, “What?”
She said, “These tears.”
I said, “Oh. Jesus gathers our tears in a bottle.”
She said, “Yes. And He said these ones are special. Be sure to gather these up.”
I said, “Jesus, told you that?”
She said, “Yes. We have little conversations now. This is new. I can talk to my daddy. In a little while, we are going to have convos (conversations) all the time.”
I was astounded. God answered my prayer from the night before through Christina. My tears were not only noticed. They were special. They were gathered. Jesus sees and knows and cares. Even today, as I cry, I know He sees and knows and cares.
"You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?"
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying."