“How’s your mom?” That is a question I have heard numerous times since I last saw her, four days ago. Nearly everyone who has asked it already knows something of her situation.
Some asking the question know only that she is not well. That she has been in the hospital a few times recently and is now at home. And others who ask know enough of the fuller story. They know enough that they don’t expect an answer such as “She’s coming along” or “She’s doing fine.” She may be doing both of those things, but not in the ways that most people would understand those answers to suggest.
I usually start my response by noting that she is slowly failing. Then I add that she is at home, where she wants to be. Her pain is being managed. As best as she can she enjoys the people who visit her. The person asking and I are usually gently nodding our heads at this point, understanding what these statements mean without having to say any more.
My siblings and I are taking turns caring for her at home. We are doing so with excellent support from Horizon Home Care and Hospice. After being away for four days I am back now for a five-day shift. One of my brothers, who lives nearby, will be checking in and giving occasional relief during my stay.
Our mom is visibly weaker today than when I saw her last, and at that point she was weaker than when she came home from the hospital and began hospice care. Tonight I learned that her physician anticipated that at that time she would likely live no more than 8 days. In what has now been nearly three weeks there have been three nights where I slept in her room and she seemed to be having so much trouble breathing that I thought the night could easily be her last.
I sometimes wonder what is keeping her alive. Is there any particular reason her failing body has not exhausted itself? It can’t be because of a tenacious inner desire to live as long as possible. If that were the case she would not have declined the surgery she was offered. She would have accepted the risks inherent in it and gone forward.
It also seems very unlikely that she is “waiting” for a last visit from a particular person. The people dearest to her, living both far and near, have all been to see her since beginning hospice.
Psalm 139:16 says:
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
I can speculate on the “reasons” my mom is sleeping in her bedroom right now, rather than resting in the eternal grasp of her Lord and Savior. But all of my speculation doesn’t change the fact that all of her days, even this one, were known by God before a single one of them came to be. He has His reasons, and as I care for my mom on this visit I do so knowing that His reasons are always best.
“How’s your mom?” “She’s fine. She’s resting for the journey home.”
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.