Breath

I am currently running on about 3ish hours of sleep.  I apologize for any words/sentences that don’t make any sense.  I need to process, I think this will help.  This is not a fluffy entry, I apologize.

Yesterday I received a call from a good friend in crisis, and I am great in a crisis.  Her mom, whom I served at HarborChase, was in the hospital, and she needed help.  I was asked to come and sit with her while my friend ran some errands.  This began the longest 20 hours of my short life, but looking back it went by so quickly.  I worked with the elderly population for 3.5 years, and I have known many folks that have left this Earth–this was the first person I watched slowly die.  I have known her mom for about 2 years, and in that time I had come to love this woman and her daughter.  She was sassy.  She would tell you exactly what she thought, wanted, needed, what hurt, though some of it was of her imagination.  She had a great giggle.  Her daughter decorated her room in the friendliest way with butterflies on the walls and these crazy green leaf patterned curtains.  Her daughter also decorated her walker (after she had broken her hip) for the seasons.  These things were special to her mom.  The adored each other, even when they didn’t.
So of course when I was called I came.  I had never seen her mom so bad, but we were confident that she would pull through-although her breathing was distressful. It was this horrible mix between a gasp and a snore with a tiny bit of gurgle.  For 20 hours we listened to her mom breathe.   At one point after a change of doctors and some actual hustle (which we waited hours for, don’t get me started on how I think those medical professionals need a lesson in what stat means) her pressure dropped and we thought we had lost her, and then she returned to us.  It was decided that they would give her comfort measures and allow nature to take its course.  So for hours we waited.  We sat, mostly in silence, listening to this once sassy woman breathe.  There used be these asthma commercials that asked you to think about your breathing.  Focus on your breath, and the it would say something like, if that was hard then…whatever whatever, that’s all someone with asthma thinks about.  Room 359 was that commercial.  Focus on the breathing.  When it got slower, more shallow, softer, we would all lean forward and hold our breaths, ‘is this it?’  Then she’d start snoring again.  We’d all sigh and my friend’s husband would shoot me these, what the hell, eyes.
You know it is such a small thing breath.  I have never listened more closely to anything in my life.   We take it for granted, really.  It comes easily to many of us, that when it slows or quickens sometimes we barely notice.  For at least 12 hours I implored the great giver of breath to take her from us; to take her soul carefully and lovingly in His hands away from this hospital room.  I know that even though we were all suffering either emotionally or physically in that room, God was with us.  He was languishing in every gasp of breath, in every moment we thought the time had finally come.  I am thankful for our empathetic God that stayed with us through those hardest hours.  He did eventually take my old resident and friend away from her pain a little before 9 this morning.  Though the grief I have experienced at her loss is great, my relief of her now eternal peace far surpasses it.

There is a song by Death Cab for Cutie that I have always found stirring–What Sarah Said.  My good friend stayed at her mother’s side until her very last breath.  She has watched as the Alzheimer’s stole her away everyday for the last 3 or more years.  To me, witnessing her love and devotion to her mother as she sat restlessly by her side, is a testament of what love really is.  And this life isn’t for sissies, neither are the kinds of things that love calls for us to do.  At the end of this song it asks, “who is going to watch you die.”  We weren’t the only ones watching, God was watching with us as His beloved gasp for air for 23 hours.  He watched with us and for us, and shows the depth of His love through His empathy, through His presence.

Death Cab for Cutie–What Sarah Said

 

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