The journey of dying

This picture has so many memories attached to it.
When they were little my mom was the first one in --
teaching all three of my kids to swim.   This day she battled
to get in, so wanting this moment with us. 
That's what we do...
"hold on tight" to
those we love! 
My mother battled a degenerative brain disease for the past several years with great tenacity.  Although her particular disease was not clearly diagnosable it resided somewhere with Parkinson-ism and ALS.  As time passed we watched the lasting effects of her body and mind disconnecting.  Ultimately losing all physical capacity. 

In and out of specialists office we began to learn a new language. These terms always seemed to fall short of describing the reality of what my mother was experiencing.  It's not that the healthcare system failed us. We watched the realities of a degenerative disease consume my mother.

Last summer, after complicating factors collided, her body once again took a significant downward shift.  Then after two months of active dying,  my mother took her last, belabored breath. 

I honestly believe God is active

and present in the best and worst of life. 

You see I am a professional Christ follower-- it's my vocation to write and teach about God and faith.  I officiate weddings and funerals. I have the privilege to listen and gently guide others as they sort through varied life and faith issues. I honestly believe God is active and present in the best and worst of life. 

Sitting by the side of a loved one brought both questions and clarity. I had heard about this journey of dying from dear friends.  Listened as the shared the scary and the sacred of saying goodbye to a parent, a spouse and for some even a child. 

Somehow in this journey of living and dying our eyes are opened to how we've chosen to live. 

Every time I would leave my mother's hospice bedside and drive home trying re-engage in my life, I would wonder what would transpire in my absence.  

As my mom slipped farther and farther away -- my heart was torn.  Should I stay one more day, one more night?  Should I go home for a little while?  What would happen in between now and then? 

As one of the hospice nurses reminded me ever so gently -- this is a journey not an event. 

I'm continuing to learn to lean into the sacred, thin space (hmmm what do I really mean by that?  give me a little time and I'll try and explain in another post) of dying.

Yet on those days and night when I had the privilege of sitting by my mother's bedside brought both questions and clarity.