The Life of the Party

One summer day in July, that sweet, new boyfriend of mine went with me to visit my mom in the hospital. Due to cancer now invading her brain, we never knew what a visit would be like. She hadn’t been making a lot of sense in conversations.

Bless my mom though, and honestly bless The Dude, because soon after we arrived, I explained to her that this was The Dude, my boyfriend. She looked him right in the eye and asked him if he was going to marry me.

My dad, aunt, and my mom. Disney World, March of 1976. Such a fun trip filled with wonderful memories and so many laughs.

Oh boy! Thank God for his sense of humor and his kindness. He laughed nervously while I explained that no, we were much too young to get married, he was going to be a high school senior and I would be off to college in the fall. I’m not sure she ever understood, but it felt so good to me to bring this first boyfriend of mine to meet my mom, regardless of the circumstances.

Near the middle of the month, it was determined my mom was no longer able to stay in the hospital. Her cancer was too advanced and there was nothing more they could do for her. At that time, the choices presented were that she could go home, or to a nursing home. Apparently, she determined earlier in her illness that she didn’t want to go home.

The absolute life of the party. Always.

She didn’t want to die at home and have that be a memory for her family. There was a room at a local hospital’s nursing home that was attached to the hospital. That felt like the best choice.

The good news was that it was now about ten minutes from our house. The bad news was that my 47-year-old, once vivacious, life of the party, mom was being moved to a nursing home to live out the remainder of her life.

I was in an absolute fog of terror. How had this come about? Could we tell my grandparents that their daughter had cancer yet? My dad seemed to spend every waking moment at the hospital with my mom.

I felt truly on my own and continued to fill my days with work, friends, and time with The Dude.

The day she was moved by ambulance from the hospital in Chicago to the nursing home in Oak Park, will be a day that I will absolutely never forget. On the day of the transfer, there was a mix-up with medications and none were given.

As my mom lay moaning in agonizing pain, my dad, sister, and I sat on chairs at the edge of the bed in silent horror. No one seemed to know what to do.

At one point, I stormed off to the nurse’s station to demand someone help my mother in some way. I returned to the room and sat down, full of anguish and helplessness.

At this moment, my mom turned her head to an empty chair, right next to her bed, and started to speak. This was incredible because she hadn’t spoken coherently in a while.

She calmly spoke to Jesus, who was quite obviously in the chair next to her, and told Him she was ready to go, please take her with Him. She spoke quietly, and clearly, to Jesus until the nurse came sprinting in with pain medication several minutes later.

I would remember that moment as the exact time I literally felt the presence of God and started to understand how the Holy Spirit worked.

 

9 thoughts on “The Life of the Party

  1. I had no idea you experienced this Karen. There is no forgetting or denying witnessing an experience like this. God is always providing. I’m ao glad to know, even if only for a brief moment, you could see your mother at peace and in full acceptance. It can be frightening, but the spirit and calm is undeniable. I love you amd I’m proud of you for sharing this intimate exchange. Thank you.

  2. WoW, Karen. I had a similar moment in a hospital once, but I was alone in my dark room, trembling with fear and anxiety over what was going to happen. And I should have been talking to HIM, but HE was talking to me. He simply said, “Everything will be all right.”
    That was it. But it gave me INSTANT peace and warmth.
    God is GOOD. Reeeeeal Good!

    1. Lynn, that’s a wonderful story and reminder that when we don’t have the words, we simply need to listen. I’m sorry for your fear at the time, but thankful peace came. When asked to pray for others, I often pray that they have peace and courage. Thank you for sharing.

  3. It sounds like your Mom lived her life with joy…. Like I see in you. How honoring to capture these memories. Love that your Mom, you and Jesus shared that sweet moment.

    1. I never thought of it as a shared moment and I love that you brought that to my heart today. Love you my friend!

  4. This passage touched me in so many ways…in the midst of chaos and pain, your Mom turned to Jesus…and the peace that passes all understanding pervaded the room – and calmed your heart. While this piece brought tears to my eyes, it also brought a peace to my own heart as the Holy Spirit did what only He can do.

    1. Thank you for sharing how this story impacted you. At the time, I thought she was going to die right then and there. In fact, I think I was a bit sad that she did not. She was so at peace. I didn’t take comfort in this story until many years later. At the time, I was so scared and caught up in the moment witnessing all of the pain and wanting to ‘fix’ it. I’m forever grateful for that experience, as difficult as it all was. To see God in action like that was a blessing.

  5. That photo of your mom makes me miss her and I didn’t even know her! She impacted many people just like you do. I want to laugh freely like she did.

    It was powerful to read that you know the moment you felt the Presence of God. What a blessing in the midst of suffering.

    1. She was so much fun! She also hated having her picture taken so every time I share one, I throw a little prayer up! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, I love hearing from you.

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