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NO the perfect character does not matter! check this character out in Ultimate Birth by Debbie Telling Gleed. She's an everyday daughter, not doing anything miraculous. And yet, what a gripping story!
As soft-stepping nurses Gently monitor and measure, Death knocks quietly at the door.
I overhear my mother’s hospice nurse, Justin, report to the doctor, “She’s shutting down fairly quickly—maybe two days left.” I think to myself, “Who can really say? Only God knows the time of our passing.” As I wait I feel a combination of guilt, memories and anxiety. I cannot explain my muddled emotions. Justin comes back into the room, slips his cell phone into his hip holster, and gathers his blood pressure cuff and notebook. “Can I do anything else for you, Lynn?” he asks me. “No, thank you,” I reply. “My mother is eighty-eight years old and too tired to live. But I’m just glad she is able to be home and relatively comfortable.” “She is comfortable,” Justin reassures me. Then looking around, “This is a lovely bedroom.” Again looking at my mother, “She is fortunate, Lynn. Your mother is not in pain. Her body is simply shutting down down.” He puts a hand on my shoulder. “I admire your serenity. I would be frantic at a time like this.” I’m confused at his confession. He is a professional registered nurse who deals with death routinely. Maybe he doesn’t have faith in an afterlife and the promise of a glorious resurrection through Jesus Christ. I smile at him and say, “I’m fine, Justin. I’ll see you tomorrow.” As he closes the apartment door, I try to reassure myself I did the right thing by bringing Mother home from the convalescent center to live out her last days. Then guilt wells up within me. Am I being selfish? Am I robbing her of proper medical care? What if I don’t know what to do when the time comes? Maybe she’s really not dying at all!” I take a deep breath in an effort to denounce the negative voices. “No, that’s not right. It’s all real. Mother is truly dying.” I bow my head and offer a simple prayer. “Father, please guide me in the caring for my mother. Open my ears so I may hear Thy promptings. Bless my mother with a sweet passing and carry her gently home…” I hover over the last word, then with courage I utter “soon.” A wave of guilt washed over me again. Was I asking for my mother or for myself? I know better than to bargain with the Lord. Maybe I had overstepped by asking for Mother’s “sweet passing.” I know that Heavenly Father is filled with wisdom and charity; He knows what lessons my mother still needs to learn during the last moments of her mortal probation. Surely, the process of dying is a significant experience that aids us in our eternal progression. I have no right to ask her that she be denied any blessing-laden experience that the Lord offers her. Perhaps the lessons we learn at death propel us into eternity at light speed. The potential blessings are innumerable: patience, trust, faith,hope, repentance, increased love, gratitude, and yearning for home. Who am I to ask that her death experience be anything than what He has planned for her? This process is not about me; I am simply an observer of a miracle as profound as birth. Nevertheless, I feel myself being drawn out by this excruciating experience. I feel anxious and sad as I wait by the bed of my dying mother. I squeeze my eyes shut and cry out my allegiance to God—I will believe in the Lord and in His timing. I arrange the various bottles of medicines that are sitting on the nightstand: one is for nervousness; another is for pain and shortness of breath; and still another is for nausea. My anxiety drives me to set out the appropriate doses…just in case. I reach for a blue sheet containing instructions and rehearse what I should do when the inevitable happens. I hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing softly in the background. I am next to my mother’s bed sitting in my grandmother’s old rocker. Its wooden arms are worn and stained—milk stains. So many memories. Mother had refused to let me polish them away. She explained, “These little white milk stains are from years of feeding and rocking many children. Do not disturb history. Keep the stains; keep the memories alive!” I scan Mother’s bedroom as she sleeps deeply. Standing near her bed is a maple bookcase filled with precious memorabilia: photographs of loved ones who have passed away; my younger brother, Josh, at the beach; my older brother, Robert, on his boat; my father proudly fit with his graduation cap. Near their photos are seashells from our Laguna Beach hometown arranged in a semi-circle at the base of a replica of the Mayflower. Mother has always been so proud that one of our ancestors was a Pilgrim. Suddenly envy surges through me. My mother will soon be enjoying a wonderful reunion with my brothers, my father and my grandparents! Oh, how I miss them all, and now my mother will be gone, too. The Vivaldi piece ends and a joyful Pachabel melody begins. My spirit lightens and my selfishness evaporates. I hope Mother can hear this beautiful music. I think she can. When I turn the volume up or down she sometimes twitches her eyelids. When I was a young child, one of my sweetest memories was cuddling with my Mother on her bed. I would place my ear over her heart and hear the thump, babump, thump, babump. The beating of her heart assured me that all was well and I was safe. When she would speak I heard her vocal cords resonate warmly deep in the hollow of her throat, as I remained upon her chest. Now, as if I were a child again, I press my ear to her heart. I hear a faint pulse vibrating ever so slightly. I wish she could speak to me once more. Suddenly she does! But the sound is not robust; it is shallow and rattled. “Urrrr,” Mother utters an unintelligible sound. “Are you thirsty Mother?” I ask, leaning forward. Her eyes open large as if to translate, “Yes.” I place ice chips in side pockets of her cheeks. Her teeth are clenched. I dip a small pink sponge into ice water, dampen her lips, and swirl it around inside her cheeks and over her teeth and gums. Surprisingly, she responds clearly, “Okay.” “Okay? Do you like that? You are so sweet. Let me dip the sponge again.” Before I can finish moistening her mouth again, she falls asleep, deeper than before. An hour passes, then two, then three. I remain by her bed taking occasional short breaks. Six hours pass; we both exercise patience. This experience reminds me of giving birth. I knew my baby would soon arrive, but why so slowly and why so arduous the process? I think of my Grandma, my mother’s mother—what must she have endured to give birth to my mother? How anxious must she have been as she awaited her newborn daughter? Finally—
Wet from recent birth, A gasping babe of God, Seizes a breath of mortal life.
Surely, with outstretched arms, Grandmother is joyfully anticipating the arrival of her daughter once again. I become very silent as I try to feel the presence of my ancestors who may be gathering here in the room to escort Mother home. Nothing. I only perceive the gurgling of the oxygen machine. Otherwise everything is very still. Even the music has stopped. I shift my attention to my mother. I fuss with her sheets, swab her mouth, adjust her head and comb her hair. A couple more hours pass. Something is happening. Mother’s breaths are shorter and have become intensely labored. Now her eyes open widely. “Mother, are you in pain?” I ask urgently. “Mother do you need water? Mother!” I grab the medicine designated for labored breathing and administer only half the dose by pulling back her cheek and inserting the dropper deep inside. Her teeth are clenched shut again. I lay my ear on her breast, not for comfort as I did as a child, but to detect the beating of her heart. It is pounding fast and furiously. Her frail little fingers are turning blue, as are her lips. I know what is happening. Tears well up in my eyes and spill down my face. I hold her cold little hand as she goes through this process called death. Bursts of air occasionally erupt from her trachea. Her heart is palpitating irregularly. I hear the sounds of gurgling body fluids. I open her eyelids. The pupils of her eyes are fixed—no reaction to my flashlight. Again I grab her frigid little hand and wait with her. Death cannot be rushed, nor should it be. Jesus Christ could have given up His spirit at any time, but He did not. He claimed death only when His mission was completely accomplished, not a second sooner. He was willing to wait. Thus, I too will wait as Mother waits—as long it takes. I want her to have this full, once-in-eternity experience so that she may always be able to look back and call it good. We wait a long time. Each gasp, each reflex moves her closer to her release and deliverance. At last, she whitens. She is still. I imagine that Mother has just passed through to heaven’s threshold.
Pale from recent death, A frail daughter of God, Seizes the ultimate breath of immortality.
Now on my side of the veil I am alone. I have no extraordinary visitation— No angels—No special spiritual sensation. I do not see or feel my deceased father or loved ones, but I cannot imagine that they would miss a reunion like this. Because I cannot feel them does not mean they are absent. They are here. I look at Mother’s body lying still on the bed and I begin to cry, the weight of finally realizing how huge the void. I hold her. I do not know how long I allow myself to hold her. I will not be rushed. Finally, I stand and begin washing her body. I dress her in clean clothes, comb her hair, and start making phone calls. I step out onto the terrace and breathe in the night air. I cannot help but smile. Briskly I return to Mother’s side and play the joyful melodies of Pachabel. I turn up the volume. “This is a celebration!” I shout aloud. Then I think to myself, “I just witnessed a miracle! I have witnessed a righteous woman successfully complete her second estate and return to that God whose daughter she is. And because of our merciful Savior, no cord of death can bind her to the grave. He redeems us from our breathlessness. My mother lives even as Jesus Christ lives!”
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. Ecclesiastes 7:1
Trials & Triumphs of the Last Days by Debbie Telling Gleed copyright 2006