As I paced through the hospital hallway staring at a patient’s door there lie a woman, my mother-in-law, named Christine and she was dying. She couldn’t breathe, she was bleeding out due to cancer, and she was suffering from Terminal Restless Syndrome. I do not know if you have ever heard of TRS but it is like a person having the strength of a sumo wrestler and the energy of a Tasmanian devil inside a pinball machine. It includes agitation, hallucinations, and delirium. I have never experienced that syndrome before and it is quite difficult to deal with a person who is suffering with it. My family and I hadn’t slept for 5 days due to Christine’s restlessness and in fact, over 100 mg of morphine in a 24 hour period was still not enough to get this 69-year-old 87 lb. woman to sleep. It was crazy, to say the least.
It was 1 a.m. in the morning when I was pacing through those hospital halls and I could not understand why the Lord was delaying in taking Christine home. In fact, I asked Him why and His response was silence. Oh, don’t you love that? Silence. I know Jesus’ silence doesn’t mean that He is not there. It was Sunday so I know the Lord was helping all His saints get ready for Sunday Church but I needed Him in that moment. I also know the Lord never ever is too busy for me or you but like a little kid I stomped my feet anyway wanting to know Why. Why would Jesus not take her home to heaven to be with Him? We had peace knowing that she would be with Jesus because one night in a hospital room just a few months back my husband had the honor of leading her to the throne room of God. She gave her heart and life to Him, received forgiveness, and eternal life. Yet, I still questioned the Lord on His timing to take her home. It seemed I couldn’t help it, I questioned Him anyway. As I was praying and questioning I realized His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts according to Isaiah 55:8-9. That is the scripture that I quieted my soul with that early Sunday morning. I thought of Job and knew it was okay to ask the Lord but still in my flesh I was struggling. It had been a long 10 months for my husband and I and I did not know how we would be able to keep taking care of her in this state of health. She was suffering and we were exhausted. In a year’s time we renovated our home to accommodate Christine’s stay with us, we instantaneously became cancer patient caretakers, and our lives were revolved around her.
My husband truly was a saint and an inspiration for me to watch as he tenderly attended to his mom. I, on the other hand, struggled a lot through this process. I did not know my mother in law and had only met her once 16 years ago when we got married. So, all in a short time I lost part of my home, had to learn to live with someone I did not know and learn to take care of her and her illness. Talk about a season of change. It is comforting to know that God trusted my husband and I enough to watch over her. It takes patience, faith, and perseverance when you and I are put in a position we did not ask for. I hate to even admit it but in times of frustration I would say to my husband, “I did not sign up for this!” I am guessing Jesus wanted to work on us but especially me because we truly felt like James 1:2-4. It reads, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Well, I guess we were lacking. Truly, I think God has a sense of humor. I love Him dearly and know that Romans 8:28 is true which states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And our purpose assigned to us for this season was Christine.
My pacing ceased in the hallways and I threw in the towel at 2 a.m. and made my way home from the hospice hospital simply because I was exhausted. My husband and brother-in-law stayed by her side for a little longer. She finally went into a deep sleep at 3 a.m. after enough morphine to put an army to rest. Poor thing had to be tired too, she hadn’t sleep since that Wednesday and it was now Sunday. I remember my husband coming to bed around 3:30 a.m. and we awoke around 6:30 a.m. to get ready for Church and another day of TRS with Christine.
My husband teaches married couples at church and I stand alongside him as his helpmate. But, that morning I was like, “this girl is going to be late!” At 43 the bags under the eyes needed a little time to go down and several cups of coffee were needed to feel like a human again. But, as we shuffled around the house and looked at our phones we discovered that we had missed a few calls from Hospice so my husband immediately contacted them. My mother-in-law had passed away in her sleep at sunrise. A deep sigh filled my lungs and I was able to breathe out relief. I don’t mean to sound morbid but she was not suffering any longer. She was healed and in the presence of Almighty God. How could I not be relieved? Then, the thought sunk in and I was astounded by God. He had it planned all along the day and hour in which she would go home to be with Him. Who was I to question Him? His plans are always good and His ways truly not mine.
My husband proceeded to go to church and teach and I had to go by Hospice to pick up Christine’s belongings. It was a surreal moment when I stepped into the room and looked upon her by the bedside. I knew I was looking at a physical body but I knew she wasn’t there. Her last breath here was her first breath in Heaven. But, something happened while standing there at her bedside. God and the hospice nurse as my witnesses she looked over 20 years younger lying there. This 69-year-old woman because of cancer and smoking looked over 80 but lying there in that moment God had cleared every wrinkle except around her lips and her face was a smooth and subtle as a 50-year-old woman. She looked so beautiful and peaceful. It was so amazing that even the nurse stepped over as I was making a fuss over what I saw and she said, “I know, wow, look at how smooth and beautiful her skin is.” It was as though the light of the glory of God had made her physical body reflect the beauty of the Lord when He arrived to take her home that morning. Wow! Now if I had not had a witness you would probably think I was nuts but thankfully I do so that you would believe. Truly, the beauty of the Lord does make the countenance reflect it even when the last breath is taken.
Thanks to my mother-in-law Christine, I have learned so much. My husband and I had the privilege to walk with her through her journey. The ability to be patient and persevere as caretakers had its challenges at times, to say the least. However, through the last days of her earthly life, I learned something very valuable that has helped me to grow in my faith. I know that I knew this before but this experience has solidified for me without a doubt that Jesus Christ is in control of our life and our last breath. His timing is beautiful and His ways are perfect. Who else but God could take one of His Saints on a Sunday at Sunrise and it not be one of the most glorious experiences one of His daughters could witness. His day, His hour, His decision. I wouldn’t want to serve any other God but the one who is sovereign in all that He does even when at times we question Him.
Your Fellow Warrior and Princess, Jobi Jones
For further study, I encourage you to look up the following scriptures: Psalm 116:15 God looks forward to seeing His saints in heaven. Luke 1:78-79 Jesus is our Sunrise. Mark 16 God likes Sundays. Also, for further meditation on God may I suggest a journal entry using this question: Do I believe that God is in control of my very first breath all the way to my last?
Hospice has put out a great article on TRS at http://www.hospicepatients.org/terminal-agitation.html.
Scripture References: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®)
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