When Pain Came to Stay

I only left her for a moment, but her chair is empty when I return.  She has been ill since Mother’s Day and only out of the house for trips to the doctor or the emergency room.  Crippled by unrelenting pain, her body has become weak and frail.  She has lost weight and has no energy.  Where could she get to so quickly?  How fast can she move using that walker?

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I find her at the back door, gazing out at her patio.  I put my arm around her, “Mom, what are you doing?”

Her voice quavers, “Look at the Cosmos!  I am missing everything!”  Her tears come and I promise her that tomorrow we will get her outside to sit in the sun.

cosmos

Worse than the physical changes, her lovely spirit that makes her so special is withering away.  Positive and upbeat, she has always been fiercely independent.  That all changed when pain came to stay.  Now she depends on help for her most basic needs.   As the days, then weeks and now months have passed, her sunny demeanor has slipped away.  She is tired of being sick and deeply frightened that she may not get well.

As her daughters, we gladly step in to bless this woman who has been the center of our lives.  (Hint:  I am the fourth stair-step from the left.)

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We each minister to her in our own way: the cooks bring her wonderful dishes to tempt her appetite, the gardener brings her flowers and fresh produce, those with a servants heart clean, and we all do everything we can to bolster her mood and encourage her.

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The best medicine is seeing our youngest sister for a visit and getting one of her mega-watt smiles.

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We are still taking things day by day, but we embrace each moment as a blessing from God.  Every hour that goes by without the need for pain medication is a cause for celebration.  Each bite she eats, carefully noted and written down.  We search for things to spark her interest and bring some joy to her days.  We plot ways to increase her strength.  We find tasks she can do that help her feel useful.  We pray.

Pain is a fierce enemy that has overstayed its welcome, but the battle is not over.   Many prayers go up for our mom each day from friends and family far and wide.  While I cannot say I understand why God allows this suffering, I know His grace is sufficient to meet all our needs.

Walking Through the Valley

I stand sentinel in the darkened hallway.  A light shows where the door is cracked open and I strain to hear any sounds of distress from within.

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At last I hear the rattle of the old door knob, and catch a glimpse of her face.  Now pale and worn from sickness and age, the face of the one I hold most dear peers back at me.  Chocolate brown eyes focus on my face.  “You okay, mom?”

She opens the door wide so her walker can fit through, “Yes.  I am okay.”  As she moves into the narrow hallway, I step behind her in case she falters.  I speak clearly into good ear, “Dan and Josh are here to visit you.”

She turns to me, “Who is here?”

“Dan and Josh have come for a short visit.”

She stops her walker at her bedroom door, “Just a minute.”

I watch as she moves with agonizing slowness from one handhold to the next until she reaches her dresser.  There amongst her knickknacks, photos and jewelry, she finds her favorite perfume bottle and sprays the delicate scent onto each wrist.  My eyes fill with tears as I recognize her need to still appear pretty and womanly to the men in her life.  “Lord bless her.  Please ease her suffering.”

Carefully, she retraces her steps to the walker and we resume our walk to the living room where her guests await her.

Ninety-two years of age, she had been doing well until two months ago.  Now shingles has her in its ugly grip and unrelenting nerve pain has taken over her life.

The most independent person I know, is now dependent on others for her most basic needs.  The transition has been heartbreaking and demoralizing for her.  Thankfully, I have five sisters and we have all rearranged our schedules to help with mom’s care.  It has been hard on all of us to see her suffering so much.

We do not know what the future holds, but it is comforting to know that as we walk through this valley of sickness with our mom, that Jesus promises to be with us.  There may be dangers and trouble along our way, but we are not alone.  God understands our fear and worry.  He stands ready to comfort us at any moment when we call out to Him.

We do not know if we will come out of this valley with our mom having recovered her health, or if at the end of the valley God will take her home to heaven.  We do know with certainty that God is with us, and that is enough.

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