Feb 4, 2011

Staring Death in the Face

I spent a week here:
Since I couldn't leave Tessa at home, my stepdad and I took turns waiting with her in the waiting room while the other one went in to sit with Mom and Papaw. Papaw wanted to see my kids, but being as how he is in the CICU, of course he couldn't. Ainsley sent a valentine for Papaw with me on my return trip.Can I just say I've never seen anyone so sick and hooked up to so many machines in my life? How the man is still fighting is anyone's guess. He shouldn't have made it through the first day, and he shouldn't still be fighting off what he is fighting now. Fluctuating blood pressure, pneumonia, blood clots in the lungs, kidney and liver failure, and who knows what else. He has been there for over a week now. They cannot get his breathing under control and have had to intubate him more than once. He's agitated, in and out of confusion over what's going on, and begging for some relief to his thirst. It's really hard to sit with him. My mom and Aunt are taking turns and they are getting so worn down as well. Yet he just will not give up.

Mom says that on the parts that really matter in life, she needs to make the right choice. The right choice is to sit with her dad as he struggles for life. Her very busy job as an outreach pastor at a large church takes second seat to the hard hospital seat right next to her dad's bed as she explains for the hundredth time in a half hour why he can't have water (it goes into his lungs and causes more pneumonia - they give him IV fluids or ice chips instead). Since her job is based on care and compassion for others, then the number one person to show this to right now is her dad.

I became quite familiar with this bench down in the lower lobby. It was Tessa's crawl space and play area for a long time.I also became familiar with this chair. This is the small waiting area outside the CICU. She got bored with the toys I brought so my journal, miscellaneous plates and lids from the cafeteria, and my camera case/strap made good stand-ins.Watching someone fight so hard for life raises many thoughts in my head. In no particular order:
What makes a man fight so hard to stay here?
Why is the process of dying such a struggle sometimes?
Why do we fear death?
Do we fear death because we fear the unknown of the other side, or because we feel that there is something here that we still need to be here for?
When I look back on my life, will it be missed chances or a life well lived?
On the things that really matter, will I have made the right choices?
Will I have made the right choices on developing the relationships in my life rather than the material, the social positions and status, and personal pride?
I have a child waiting for me in heaven (a miscarriage).
What would it be like to grow up in heaven?
Since I was not chosen to grow up in heaven, I must have a purpose here.
What is that purpose and am I doing it well?
Why is it when we get close to the end of life, we revert to acting like little children?
When dignity and mental faculties get stripped away, what's left to make me, me?
I think when people are dying, they become who they truly are at their core. So have I fostered a lifestyle of selfishness over the years that will suddenly become magnified when I am in the process, or will there be some measure of sweetness?
Who am I if the layers of social posturing and personal pride are stripped away? Who am I at my core?
Hunter and Ainsley seem to take the matter of death in stride and very matter of fact. Not to seem morbid, but we do talk of heaven quite a bit in our home. I feel that one can not get a proper view of the fallen world we live in if you do not a have proper view of heaven. I often explain it this way to them:
All have sinned and done wrong things that God would not want.
Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve because they listened to Satan. God gave them the choice.
Now the world is a mess and bad things happen. Awful things happen.
This was never God's plan and He made a way to fix it.
God is always with us and loving us but He needs to punish sin.
He made a new place the way it was supposed to be from the beginning. This new place is perfect.
He wants us there with Him where we can walk and talk with Him again and everything is good and right.
Jesus was God's plan to get us there. Jesus was punished for all the bad things we did. Then He came alive again and showed everyone He was the winner! You can't stop Him or get rid of Him.
If we love God, and believe that Jesus died for us, then God will be our friend too and take care of us.
God takes care of us here and loves us even when things go wrong while we wait for heaven.
One day He will wipe every tear from our eyes.
God loves everyone. The reason He doesn't destroy this world now is because He is giving everyone a chance to believe in Him and discover that He is real and loving and forgiving.
So terrible things keep happening while God calls for people to come to Him. However, God is still in control.
Our hope is heaven. It's a real place with a real God who is the real solution to the mess we are in.

This may sound simplistic, but my kids get this. My kids and I discuss this several times a week. Not the whole thing every time, but parts of God's story get woven into the fabric of everyday conversation. We came face to face with this when Tessa was found with a tumor. Hunter can definitely discuss and expound on all those points up above. So when I told them Papaw is super sick, and it's probably his turn for heaven, they got excited for him. Heaven sounds super exciting to a six year old.

I have a motto that I pray for my children. I pray that they will:
Well, how can one do that if there is no concept of heaven? Without a concept of a fallen world struggling with the perfection of what will be and should be, they won't understand that they were created with an eternal purpose in mind and that they are eternally loved. That there is a specific purpose and "mission", if you will, for their life. They need to know that Jesus is Master and Lord of all that is wrong and has the ultimate victory. As Hunter says, "God's the most powerful and He's the winner!" God can look like kinda woosy if you look around and don't know the ending of the story.

Luckily, I do. "He's the winner!"


  1. Good word, Jenn. Thanks for opening up the inner reality of these brutal life/death situations.

  2. love, love, love Jenny...thanks for your thoughts and we have totally adopted your mission statement....our prayers are with you and your family! xoxo *laura*

  3. Sending thoughts and prayers your way.
    I just discovered your etsy shop and wow do you have an amazing talent. I am trying to find a baptism gown and shoes for my daughter and I am in love with the Ellie show esp since my daughters name is Elle ( as in Elle Woods from Legally Blonde) but while she is little call her Ellie but still spelling it elle. Wow, that was a mouthful! lol Anyways, once I make a decision I just may have to order them.

  4. This is one of my favorite all-time posts from you! I just went back and looked it up again - many months later - because I remembered that you explained God's plan so well, in simple, kid-friendly terms. I copied your list because I want to read it again and talk through these concepts with my 9-year-old nephew! Thanks for being a godly woman and mom!