Friday, October 16, 2015

Unexpected Beauty In Dying

There is nothing beautiful about losing your best friend at 40 years old. Nothing. It's not what I expected, it's not what I want, I actually hate it. I hate my new reality. Even as a christian, with strong faith, grief doesn't pass by. Sure, I have an anchor if you will, but I still have all the emotions and still need to go through all of them. There's this false belief that if you are a believer, you "should be strong, and have faith, God is with you." No kidding God is with me, but HIS strength is made perfect in my WEAKNESS, so no, I don't need to be strong. I need to grieve. Period. God made us with all of these emotions, and Jesus wept with Mary and Martha when their brother died.
So while there is nothing beautiful about losing someone so close, there is something extremely beautiful being able to be at her side while she was dying. That is a rare gift, and as my grief counselor assured me, "You have run the whole race with her Gina."

When I walked into her hospital room, and I saw her face, her swollen face from her kidneys shutting down, turn toward me instantly, and with an outstretched arm, which I am sure was not easy to extend, she said, "You're here?!"(I'd flown in from California and flew all night)...and then, "Gally, I'm dyinnnngg...". We met when we were 15, and now, with nearly all our children grown, we were about to go into weddings and grand kids. We always joked about our two oldest getting married one day. But this sort of talk had come to a screeching halt. Now it was, how can I help you die as peaceful as possible? How can I love you in the days or weeks to come? How can I sacrifice myself for you at the end of your life like you sacrificed so many times for me before in your glory days? How? Oh the tears stream now.

Gal was able to express how she wanted her last days/weeks to be, which in and of itself is extremely surreal, scary, yet can be positive too. She was heard, she was not just heard, she was listened to in her dying days. She was respected, along with the doctors, and all her family that saw her through, she was loved. And she knew it. There is nothing more beautiful than that in the last days of your life, is there? She was miserable, but focused, which I commend her for. She knew she was dying, and she is my hero, because she faced it with such courage and grace! She is and was incredibly brave. I don't think I could have done what she did in her last days. I admire her tenacious spirit. I followed her lead, and loved her where she was at.

I had two weeks with her. I rubbed essential oils on her body, I massaged her back, and she griped at me if it was too high or too low. Tears again. I bought her a little travel pillow with a soft cover, so she could hold it over her tummy. While her sister was on hair duty, I prayed over her. Can I tell you what a privilege and honor it is to pray over your dying friend??? I read some devotionals. I had one heart to heart with her, and she told me she saw the face of God. She entrusted me with her words. Her amazing blue eyes to my pale brown eyes, she told me she saw the face of God, and it was time for her to rest. I didn't want to believe her, but I felt it in my bones that it was true. I gave her sips of sprite, and water, and tea, and I usually couldn't get the temperature of the tea right, and trust me, she let me know this. I slept on a cot in the room with her while I broke out in hives, and she was asking me how I was. So typical! It was scary and a joy to hear her breathing throughout the night. Even as I held her hand everyday and sat with her, I missed her and she hadn't gone yet. When the Palliative nurse asked Amy what her favorite hobbies were, (they do this before they leave for Hospice), she replied, "Well it use to be going out to eat with my best friend." I had to get up and leave to cry. But I was so touched that that was her answer. Oh those were the days! In assuring her of heaven and the love the Lord had for her, I gently touched and kissed her cheeks often.
While we wish we could have been bringing her her favorite cake from Cafe Latte', or her favorite cookies from Panera, it just wasn't the time for it. We were loving her in the way that she needed from us. And boy were we overjoyed to do so. We were humbled, I WAS humbled.

And as she moved on to Hospice, I and the others continued to finish the race with her. It was incredibly heart breaking to drive behind the van that was transporting your best friend and her mother to her last earthly destination. It's somber, and numbing, and it's so heartbreaking.
In Hospice we were given the gift of the adrenaline rush that a dying person can get a few days before they let go. Amy had it! For two hours she was joking, laughing, and interacting, and we were convinced we weren't losing her. It was a confusing time. I'm so thankful we had that 2 hours with her the way we did, I have heard not everyone gets it.

As she slipped away more and more, I was terrified. I wanted to know every step of the process because that is how my brain works, it's how I learn. I watched for signs of dying, and prayed every time I saw something new. And one of the most heartbreaking things was watching her Mom with her. For as agonizing as it all was for me, I couldn't imagine her pain, We had a few more cute moments and some odd ones with her(which is common), but for the next three days, she had slipped away into unconsciousness. The Hospice nurses told me she had gone to another state. But I still held on. I think I'm still holding on.


gwerder-schuerch debbie said...

dear gina. i thank you for sharing this experience with us. the pain you're going through is agonizing. you could somehow say: the former gina died there with amy... there are no accurate words to express what you're going through and, there's nobody that can make nor will make that pain disappear. there is just one thing to do: HANGING IN THERE WITH YOU, in that unbelievable pain...
i wish you moments of comfort, rushes of joy, glimpses of hope and much, much LOVE to sooth your broken heart.

Anonymous said...

Beauty is flower that bloom in the garden of heart... bellofpeace//gede prama