Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pain and joy

On January 2nd, 2009, my Grandmother, May Vain, saw her Savior. Our Savior.

We got the phone call at 12:30 am, New Years Day, that she had first fell into respiratory arrest, followed shortly thereafter by cardiac arrest. She was due to leave the hospital in just a matter of days.

So we packed - very quickly - after just a few hours of rest. She was on a ventilator. Somewhat responsive. But shouldn't have been. She was a DNR, and due to some mix up at the hospital, they resucitated anyway. They were going to keep her on the ventilator until all of the family could get there.

We arrived at the hospital at 8:30ish that night. I got to speak to her, and my mouth said things that should have been told to her during all of the years I was able to enjoy her here. I told her how I looked up to her. That she was meeting the One that saved her - and how incredibly jealous I am of her. I told her how her character has influenced me. How her devotion to her family and love for her husband was not only a inspiration, but daily on my mind. I told her how much I love her and respect her. I stroked her hands, her hair, kissed her face. When I told her how she has influenced me, her eyebrows moved up and down expressively and she struggled to speak, although the ventilator prevented it. She tried to open her eyes and couldn't. I knew that she was protesting - she was always so humble and opposed any flattering of herself. I stayed as long as I could - as long as the kids could take it. Shawn, Emily, and I sang to her with weak voices. We brought Charity in, and she was able to hear that sweet voice that I hear every single day. How sweet it must have sounded to her. We went home, and tried to rest.

The next day, Friday, my aunt took Emily and I aside and explained that her, my dad, and Uncle Cliff were in agreement that ventilator indeed was against her wishes (she was so angry that it was there, that in her struggles had disconnected it several times already - thus was heavily sedated) and that it was time to remove her. So at two, Emily and I made the trip to the hospital. We went in one last time, and I attempted yet again to tell her how much I love her, and how full my heart was for her - with joy and pain all at once. This was what she had waited her life for - the completion of her sanctification, the hope that she held for so many years. So I stroked her hair, kissed her, held her hand, as long as I could. My Aunt explained to her what was going to happen, and told her mom that she loved her. Once again, my grandmother tried so hard to speak. I know she was saying, "I love you, too." She just wanted to go home, to heaven, as she had told her sister not even two days prior.

Some time during the four o'clock hour, I don't quite remember the time exactly, the ventilator was removed. She breathed on her own for nearly 6 hours after that. During that time we were in and out, securing a baby sitter, getting the kids to bed, etc. We made it back to the hospital around 9:30ish. When we were there, we were able to sing to her again... and one of the gentleman there (the music leader of her church) sang the song my grandmother would sing to me when I was little - You Are My Sunshine. I cried more than I ever thought possible. Around 10:10, the nurse came into the waiting room and notified us that we needed to come back. When we arrived, we witnessed the last few minutes of her life on earth. She comfortably left her earthly body, to meet her Lord face to face. The room was full of family, yet peaceful. I had witnessed eternity right there - the hope of my soul and everything I am living for now. What a joyful occasion! What heart wrenching sorrow! And I would be remiss to act as if there were no regrets. But I was there - I saw her in the moment before she met God.

And I can't help but wonder if the Lord was wooing her away. Did she get a sweeter taste of heaven as the moments and hours dawned closer to her departure? Did the music of heaven get louder and more clear? Did the sweet aroma of hope fulfilled become stronger and stronger? And did her Savior's face become clearer the closer she got? I suppose I will not know until I am there myself. But my hands are shaking at the thought! Could it be that she knew it was imminent - that her sanctification was rapidly approaching its end? How sweet those last few days must have been to her! The thoughts and longings of her heart must have been beautfully sweet and joyous.

Her funeral was held on Tuesday at 11 am. Shawn was asked to be a pallbearer, and he humbly and gladly accepted. Needless to say, it was difficult to care for my children without him. My sister was a tremendous help to me the entire time. It was quite surreal though. My heart wanted to grieve, yet my hands were so busy. The graveside was no different. The day was nasty and rainy and cold, and there were chairs set up for family under then tent - yet my sweet Calvin was absolutely terrified to be under the tent. He and Lottie cried for a lot of it - they were tired and hungry and cold. So only tonight, in typing out my thoughts, has the grief finally started to hit me. I miss her. I will see her again, but more importantly I, too, will meet my Savior one day. And her passing has made me crave it even more. I pray that the things I have learned on the brevity of life and the joys to come will not leave me quickly. While she was dying, and since then, the verse that has been burned into my heart is this:

2 Corinthians 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

She probably feels already as if she has been with the Lord for an eternity, with all but an eternity ahead of her. Praise be to God, I can only stand in awe of His works. His ways are above mine, and I am thankful that He has taken her home, where she will suffer no more and is relishing in the presence of Him who created her, redeemed her, and completely sanctified her. Praise be to God.

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