It was morning.
The sun peaking over the horizon…whispering its luminescent yellow glow through the trees.
The night had been full of a wearisome wrestling.
Emotions tattered. Fervor frayed.
Logic framed, but confused.
Life was now on a limb.
In the balance.
There she lay.
Cogency giving way to unconsciousness. In and out. Sleep and sedation. Light conversations leading to silence. Too long now the silence has remained.
Moments turning into days.
Decisions. Life decisions.
Oxygen levels depleted. Hopelessness arising. The best path forward discussed in hushed reserve.
Each moment critical.
Regret mixed with gladness. A smile and then tears.
A journey of life flooding his mind. The triumphs and the tragedies break through the fog.
The moment of covenant. The first experience of intimacy. The first cry of their children entering this harsh world. The trips and memories. The tears and the anxieties overwhelming the senses.
Trapped in the moment of decision. Being brought back to the present. The stoic silence. The peaceful but perpetual sight. The agony of decision.
Oxygen levels low. Pneumonia set in. The sickness attacking an already tired and depleted immunity. Fighting for an answer.
Simplicity flees and ambiguity enters.
This is no easy decision.
To be in control of tomorrow? To release with one phrase the support…the lifeline…the potential.
Oh, the gnawing potential.
The possibility of recovery. The statistical juggling taking its effect and the numb reserve taking hold.
Still…she lays. Having entrusted herself to him. In sickness and in health…till death do them part. Her life in his hands.
He breathes deeply. He gathers his words. He stalls. Everyone watching. Everyone waiting for his directive. He pauses. It’s too much for him to bear. His love lying still before him. Chest rising and falling with the cadence of the machine(s). The beep of measuring devices reminding him of the chaos of the moment.
She shouldn’t be here. He shouldn’t bear this decision alone. Life is too valuable.
The wait turns into the weight. Bearing down upon him.
His eyes closed. He prays for wisdom. He grasps her hand…no response. He longs to feel it tighten into his. He waits. No strength. He cries. Tears flood the room. His shoulders shake with sobs. He rises. Leans over her bedside. His hand finds its way to her face. Her beautiful and delicate face. He strokes her hair. He press his hand on her forehead. “Open your eyes,” he says to himself. He looks up. The sun now pouring into their room. He turns his gaze back to her. He embraces her one last time.
He looks at the doctor, and remembers her request.
He is her steward. He must honor her request.
He knows. He knows with certainty that every option has been explored. Every potential has been exhausted. His only decision is her decision. “Fight until you can fight no more…then let me go home. The decision is not yours, but mine…”, her words echo through his mind.
He pauses again. He breathes slow and shallow. He looks at her face. Her sweet face. He looks up at the doctor.
“It’s time. Take her off the support–the so-called support of life.”
Movement. Clicking. Switching. Shifting. Busyness around her bed turns to swirls. Everything is blurred except her lying there.
He holds her hand. Beeping. Beeping. Beeping.
He squeezes tighter…longing for a response. “Grip my hand,” he agonizes in his mind. One last time, he longs for her warmth…for her touch to respond to his.
The dreadful silence.
The horrendous quiet. Stillness.
He lifts his head. Tears streaming down his cheeks.
Hoping. Praying. Longing.
Her chest is still. Her hand at rest in his. Her chest doesn’t move.
The moment freezes. His life flashes before his eyes. Her life flashes before his eyes.
Finally he looks up. She is at peace. Her face is radiant and calm.
She has passed on. She has gone from life to life.
The weight of life. He understands a reality he has never understood before. Heartache and loss. He feels alone.
He slumps back in his chair next to her side.
His throat is packed. He can hardly swallow. The sharpness of the pain intensifies. His shoulders drop.
He remembers something she said to him one morning on a walk.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
He breathes deep. He swallows the pain. A new life. A new weight of life begins.
This was written to honor all those who have faced death’s scene with someone they love. You are not alone. God is with you. He is near. He will lift your head in love. He will put a new song in your heart. Believe. Trust. Press on. We need you.
How Do We Apply This To Everyday Life?
- Look back…
- Perhaps you’ve walked down a similar road to the one described above. Perhaps even you faced a situation that wasn’t as clear…even more foggy and information processing and decision making more ambiguous. Perhaps even further you have regret or guilt or anxiety when you think back to this or these moments.
- If this is you and you are still healing from your experience, please let me encourage you:
- As a fellow human journeying through life like you, let me first say that I am so sorry. I don’t pretend to understand what you’ve been through, but know that I am sorry you have faced this situation. Truly, I am sorry.
- As a pastor, let me encourage you with principles from God’s Word:
- God created all things, He sustains all things, and He is the providential Guide super-intending all things. In other words, like Job–who faced all the world’s suffering and carnage–he nevertheless was always in the hands of His God despite the pain and suffering. Thus, Job could conclude that God did not cause the events he faced, nor did He punish Job by allowing these things to happen to him. Instead, Job came to the realization that the world in which he resides is riddled with sin, and as a result suffering and pain are mixed with delight and joy. Which leads to the second point…
- Sin entered when the first man and woman chose autonomy over trust. The ground and all creation was cursed, as well as the origination of indwelling sin and humanity’s broken fellowship with God. In other words, the world is broken, humans are broken, and thus existence in a broken world leads to heartache, pain, and ultimately death. However, the final word is not these agonizing experiences. No, the final word is the gospel–good news–of Jesus Christ. He conquered death and offers not only life eternal in fellowship with the Triune God-head, but also present fellowship to those whose trust is in Him. This leads to the next point…
- Look around…
- Jesus said, “…behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b. In other words, even though we may not see our Lord, He is with us as a comfort and guide.
- Therefore, we can enjoy with peaceful contentment those relationships with loved-ones that remain. We can embrace them as we are embraced by our Lord.
- We are their stewards, which means we have practical life directives in place such as a last will and testament, a last letter written to your spouse or loved ones, medical directives for situations such as life support and the like, as well as direction on where financial, legal, medical, insurance and all business-related information is kept. Leadership continues beyond passing from life-to-life.
- Look forward…
- There is a finality to life. As hard and morbid the thought, we all must die.
- We’re born thinking we’re immortal. This is partly true–our souls will never die–but our bodies must undergo and sustain the effects of the fall. This means, aging, aching, fatigue, sickness, etc., and ultimately death.
- Therefore, this life is a test…a trial…a seasoning…a taste of the joy–despite circumstances–to come.
- And so, we can have a faraway gaze toward heaven. We can trust that the pain and heartache have only been a trial preparing us for the sweetness of eternity with our loved-ones and our Lord.
- We can rest knowing we are not the first to cross the river of death, but in a great company of myriads before us…and so we press on!