If hell is a place of agony, I’ve been there for several days.
Three years ago at this time, I was sitting on the edge of a dark precipice – looking into a heartbreaking and scary unknown.
For you see, my sweet Leah was in final stages of abdominal sarcoma cancer. We wanted to keep Leah at home, but the disease was spreading rapidly and she needed pain meds via IV, so we took her to hospice. Our goal was to make her comfortable and bring her back home.
She did not come back home. Little did I realize that, as we drove away in the ambulance, she would never enter our front door again. I knew from the 30 minute ride to the hospital that this bad experience was getting worse, but my instinct to take care of my girl took over my emotions.
I’ve avoided the hospice topic for three years. Why? The process of dying is hard to think about and even harder to talk about. It’s a topic many of us push aside and avoid. Who wants to hear stories of death? It’s depressing and uncomfortable.
Having walked the “valley of the shadow of death” with Leah, I have a different perspective about the dying process and talking about it.
If heaven is a place of of supernatural peace, I’ve also been there for several days.
After the first few days of frustration and tension in hospice, it’s as though a soft cloud enveloped the four of us in Leah’s hospice room. She became more comfortable and relaxed. No longer able to open her eyes, she knew who was in the room and when family members left the room. Each time that I stepped away to use the bathroom, she called for me – knowing I left her side. It was as though she was seeing with her eyes shut.
The onsite chaplain explained to me that while Leah’s body was dying, her spirit was growing stronger. As I listened, I thought, “Hmmm, it sounds nice, but this comment is probably what he has to say. It’s part of his job description.” During the nine days in hospice, I came to believe his statement as truth. Her spirit WAS growing stronger.
Leah, with eyes closed, shared some images that clearly comforted her and, in turn, comforted me. She motioned with her hand and said that she wanted to “sit on the white blanket again” and she wanted to see the “fishes again.” It’s as though a beauty was calling her – wooing her.
During Leah’s final three days, the three of us spent 24/7 with her and it was as though we were having a sleepover. The three of us (my husband, son and I) took turns playing our favorite songs on my iPad – filling the room with music. Relaxed as though in a hotel room, we chatted about funny experiences and memories. When Leah got a little restless, I sang Christmas songs to her, which calmed her. (Humorous because I have a lousy singing voice.) For her nine days in hospice, I stopped being a caregiver and nurse. I was able to just be “mom” and focus on fully loving Leah.
Laying next to Leah the 9th morning, I could sense the time for her to go was coming, so I called Mark and Grant to her bedside. And within ten minutes, she took her final breath. I have no doubt she moved right into God’s presence and walked through His front door – the door of her true home. Her final expression was peaceful and beautiful; there was a slight smile on her face.
Her hospice nurse wisely said to me, “Her suffering is over and now yours has just begun.” Again, words proven true.
Today, I’m honoring the day she passed away. I miss her. I will always miss my sweet girl – every day that I breathe. Time does not heal or take away the longing for her presence.
Your willingness to share my journey, of loss and restoration, is a gift. My spirit is lightened when I share my love for my little miss. I deeply thank you for reading my posts and entering into this space with me.
If I can give you a gift in return, I hope you are at peace thinking about your final moments. If not, and you desire to have the supernatural peace Leah had, God is there for you – all you need to do is call upon Him.
I have confidence in this verse, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
I am counting on this promise.
Note: Our hospice team was amazing. They were kind, compassionate, thoughtful and very sensitive. One of the coordinators asked if we wanted a mold of Leah and me holding hands. Leah agreed to it and I am so very grateful. It’s made of plaster; I keep it in a box so it doesn’t break, but took it out to show you.