Monday, June 29, 2009

The Last Day.

I’m not sure why but I just feel like it’s time and it’s important to share Scott’s last day on earth with everyone who may read this. It was sad, but it was so incredible. God made His presence known more on this day than any other day.

It started out, “same old, same old”. I knew today would be the day he died, his nurse, Cara had seen this for 11 years and she knew it would be today. I was wrestling with what the actual event would look like. I had never experienced this before. I had no idea what to expect.

Back track – Febuary – When Scott decided to stop the cancer treatments, he asked, begged me to not cry when he died because he knew he was going to a better place. There was no way that I could honor that wish and I told him so. He simply said, “I cannot die until you aren’t crying”. I didn’t know the depth of his determination about this.

We had a rough weekend, prior to his death and I had to make decisions I really didn’t want to have to make. But he’d “turned the corner” and it was all on me now. Such a huge burden! So this day was like the day before, no activity. He was sedated and hadn’t moved a muscle for 3 days. I washed his face ( I told him he couldn’t meet the angels with a dirty face!) and tried to keep him as comfortable as I could.

I knew he was going to die and I had to pick songs for his memorial service, so I just turned on his Ipod and let the music play. I watched for any reactions from him and there were none…
Then after I had a shower, his mom, Lola said, “He’s awake”. I took 2 steps to his side and he flung his arms like he was trying to swim to the surface and made sounds like he was afraid and grasping for air. After about 10-15 minutes he calmed down and we breathed a sigh of relief. “Crisis averted”.

I didn’t know what that was all about until just recently. I read a book called “Experiencing Grief” and there was a passage I read from Psalms 18: 16-19. It’s meant for those grieving the loss of a loved one, but it really just deeply affected me and explained what “that episode” was all about.
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; and drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy. From my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me“.

THIS MAKES TOTAL SENSE TO ME NOW. There is no doubt that Scott is with Jesus.

Anyway, the day progressed and I was dreading the evening. Cara, his nurse had already come twice that day and said it would most likely be “tonight”. Lola and I kept a bedside vigil. He was never left alone for 1 second. She’d take a break, and I’d stay, or I’d take a break and she’d stay. Or we both just sat with him. Telling him we loved him, telling him how many people loved him. We kept him cool, as he had a fever, we watched for any signs that he was aware we were there. But there was very little. He’d make some facial expressions, but that was about it.

Then about 5 ish, Lola went outside to take a break and to call Ann. I stayed there, listening to the 315 songs on his Ipod. We were on ELO (one of his favorite groups) and a song called “Just for Love” started to play.

I just happened to look over at him and his eyes were open and he was clearly focused on me. He tried to say, “hey or Honey”, not sure, but I went to his head and took his hand. He stopped breathing and his heart stopped for the 1st time. I called to Lola, and she came. Then the phone rang, it was Cara. She arrived in about 10 minutes and announced, “yep, it’s time”. And I was crying and just a mess. He started to breathe again before Cara arrived so I didn’t know what to think!~ She said we wait. She said to Scott after he stopped breathing the 2nd time, “Scott, Dude, what are you doing? It’s all okay now.” And of course I was crying and he started to breathe again and his heart beat was stronger and faster, not weaker and slower so we didn’t know what to think. He stopped breathing again, now the 3rd time and his heart stopped again, and we waited… I cried, and we waited. He started breathing again! At this point Lola noticed that his tumor was turning white! The secondary tumors were paper white, and the main tumor which was once SCARLET RED was turning to the same color as his skin! The blood was draining from the tumor – praise God. We really had to watch that and be prepared for it to burst.

I suddenly had to use the bathroom. Cara said, “Go, quick.”. While there, I prayed that God would give me peace. And He did. It felt like warm oil was flowing over me and suddenly I had the strength to get through this. I washed my face and came out of the room. Cara and Lola looked at me and asked if I was alright. I must have looked different or something, I just said, “yep, I’m at peace, we’re good.” I went to Scott’s side and kissed him long on his forehead and said, “Ha, Ha, I’m not crying now”. He took his last breath and his heart stopped for the last time, and went to be with the Lord. Everything remained calm.

Just like Scott would have said in times of drama and excitement – “everyone remain calm”.

And God’s peace and calm was with us through the night.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Moving on...

I'm very sad today....

I went back to work today and did my very best, but I just kept thinking that I'm moving on, but I'm moving on without my husband and this really, really makes me sad. I hate what I'm doing.... it just seems so meaningless. So stupid... they complain that their colors of their logo don't match. The green is a shade off..... Oh who FREAKING cares. Get over it.
I just can't be a good servant there. Because I really don't care if your colors are off... "do you know my husband just died!!!!" No, I didn't say that but... I wanted to.

I found this song today that just reminded me of Scott... and I miss him so much.

And so I continue to push "rewind- stop - play" and wonder at the seeds that were planted because of what he did and that we just let others come and see our "pain" and our joy.

And as we continued to just leap from moment of faith to moment of faith.... and watched as God performed His great wonders.

And as sad as it is... God does miracles. Not necessarily the ones we wanted, but miracles nonetheless.

Through this, his children witnessed his faith in God, and saw so much that I'm sure they are now thinking about God and all that goes with knowing God. His oldest daughter made contact, okay a little late, but I REALLY want her to be reintroduced to the man he became rather than the man that she remembers.

I only want what God wants and I continue to hear Him speak....

I'm resting in "His Holiness"

But I'm still very sad. The tears flow freely tonight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Will Still Love You, Lord.

I had this plan that I would go back to work on June 1st. Silly me… to be making such lofty plans for myself. Well, God had and still has different plans for me. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect this past few days on what God would have me do this week…. I’ve had time to “rewind-stop-play, fast forward-stop-play” over and over about the last 6 months since Scott’s cancer diagnosis and my daughter, Shannon told me, “Mom, don’t worry, your rewind will break”. And I wasn’t really “worried” because I know its all part of the grieving process. I’ve read some things about grief and how you fight it or just go with the roll of the wave. And I’ve found that it’s much easier, in a sense, to just roll with it.

And I decided to just be open to the Lord and whatever His plan was for me. Not only this past week but for my life. And I know that this isn’t going to be the easiest thing for me to do, since I tend to be stubborn in a few areas where “I think I know what’s best”. Well… honestly, it turns out, I know NOTHING!

Everything just keeps coming back to me… from the time He found me and brushed me off and set me on this new path 10 years ago. And I’ve seen God’s hand in my life so much clearer.

From even before I knew Him. And I stand in awe and amazement at the wonder of it all.

Fast Forward to current day – and this comes back to Scott’s cancer diagnosis and how much I thought I could “control” the situations around me. But if you knew Scott you knew he likes to take charge of his own life unless it’s God telling him what to do. I had a hard time with Scott taking a very non proactive stance with the hospital personnel or doctors. He never pushed for a sooner appointment, but he did ask the tough questions. The ones a person doesn’t really want to know the answer to. I was extremely frustrated with his attitude and his lack of action regarding his care.

Then a dear, sweet friend, and you know who you are, invited me to her home to “talk”. And proceeded to tell me that I was being a pain in the ass! Of course I tried to argue this, but she was showing me that Scott wasn’t a child, he was a grown man capable of making his own decisions – right or wrong. CRAP!!!

And she taught me to “just be”. Be in the moment, don’t fight the moment. If anyone knows me they know that this was IMPOSSIBLE for me to do. At least in my own power.

And I found out that I really knew nothing about what was coming our way. I’d never heard of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in my life. So I did my diligent duty by researching everything I could find on the subject. But I still didn’t know exactly what would take place. Scott’s tumor was on his neck. It started in his throat and grew outward. And it got HUGE quickly. It was non-operable. But it was also all over the inside of his body. At the rate the visible tumors were growing and appearing the tumors inside his body were growing.

I reviewed the lab reports, and looked at the MRI films. It was overwhelming to me.

Scott just kept saying over and over, “It’s in God’s Hands”. And he really, truly believed it. Which then forced me to take a look at that too…. And you know what, I came to really, truly believe it as well. Not because I liked anything that was happening, but I kept seeing God in things every day. God made Himself VERY visible during this horrible ordeal.

Scott decided to do treatment, even though it was stage 4 and due to his current health status, this was going to be very difficult for him. And I knew, by what I believe was the power of the Holy Spirit, that he wouldn’t be able to finish treatment.

And so it came to be. Scott decided that he didn’t want to die from “complications of cancer treatment”.

Then we watched as the tumor shrank, and we had this hope that God was giving Scott the miracle he prayed for, but it came back with a vengeance and it stole everything from Scott.

As Scott proceeded to get worse and worse he still wanted people to come and sit and visit. Even when he couldn’t stay awake more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time. People were so loving and patient and waited for him to wake up. And this was a blessing for me too, most of the time anyway.

The visits from other people afforded me the luxury of leaving the apartment even for a few minutes to walk the dog, or check the mail. The wonderful people of our church, Terra Nova, did their due diligence too. We had meals brought to us, we had some people come, lay out the food and “sup” with us. What a huge blessing that was for us. We were able to get to know people in ways we never would have. And Scott just kept pointing out that all of this was in God’s own Hands. His statement throughout was, “God’s got this, God’s still got this”. We had people do our laundry - you guys know who you are! Kudos to you!!! We had people bring us mocha's and just "hang out". Turns out they were blessed by blessing us. What a concept!

Throughout this process, there were times of sheer joy and times of sheer frustration.

Sometimes all at the same time.

Scott always kept us laughing. Even down to when he couldn’t even communicate very well. You see, there was the other tumor, the one that wasn’t big at all, that was our “troublemaker”. It rested on Scott’s ceratoid artery and was keeping the blood from getting to his brain and Scott could no longer form thought into word. And again, if you knew Scott you know that he always had much to say. So I know how very trying this was for him. But he still kept me laughing. That was one solid constant with Scott… he always laughed at the stupidest things and could make me laugh right along with him. He knew if he could make me laugh, the danger was over.

Scott fought every “new thing” that had to happen. New meds were suspicious, getting the hospital bed in here for him was a big battle that was fought in our living room with the nurse, his mom, Lola, me and our friend Sharon. He really lost his temper with Sharon and later hugged her and apologized. It was a touching moment – hard but touching. He finally ok’d the bed, but NO WHITE SHEETS – so Lola went and got him black sheets, and a back up Ivory pair. He hated using the oxygen, but did use it more and more. He questioned the pain pump. And I’ll never forget the look on his face (the saddest look I've ever seen in my life) when he needed to have a catheter put in.

After that the care of him became harder and easier at the same time. It was at this point that he was so agitated that he had to be treated for the agitation. Because agitation is like pain.
However - Side effect – sedation.
How I HATED having to make that call. I knew I was taking complete control of everything that was the essence of Scott.

How I cried, yet God held fast to me. In the times that I was frustrated, confused and tormented by the decisions I was making God was there holding on to me, because He knew I couldn’t hold on to Him. He put people before me to help me in the big and the small of its. Lola, my wonderful mother in law who tried to do everything she could to make life as I knew it easier. The laundry cart, the cleaning up and just the awesome support. She backed me up every step of the way.

Cara, Scott’s nurse who is now a member of our family – how God knew it was going to take her with her personality to overcome the challenges Scott presented. And she not only overcame those challenges, but she got Scott to love her... and he SO LOVED her. She was here on her days off too. Just to check him and “be” with us. She supported me in different ways than Lola did. But God put so many people here to support us. Pastors John Reed and Lyle Castellaw, people we didn’t even really know became “fixtures” in our home.

Again, I stand in awe and amazement. Okay, I sometimes sit in awe and amazement. How He used the smallest consequence for His purposes was just a total “wow” to watch.

In the “beginning of the end” Scott knew without a shadow of a doubt how much he was loved. Not only by God, but by all the people whose lives he touched. And there were plenty of them. He never realized that some of the smallest things he did touched people in a way that they would never be the same again. He did that with me so I know it to be true.

So now again, reflecting on everything from the beginning of Scott’s illness I can say without a shadow of a doubt that God is present. He is present in it all. And God has touched me in powerful ways I never saw coming. He was with me in that last hour of Scott’s life when I begged Him to be with me “right here, right now” and His peace just washed over me so that I could stop crying so Scott could go home to be with Him.

You see, Scott hated to see me cry. The day after he decided to stop treatment he asked me not to cry when he died. I told him that his request was unreasonable and unrealistic. But that I would try…. Well…. Helloooo….if I didn’t cry there would have been something terribly amiss.

And I cried that last hour every time he stopped breathing and his heart stopped I cried hysterically. That’s when I begged our God, “Right here, right now” and He gave me the peace that only He could give me and finally I whispered to Scott, “Ha ha, I’m not crying now” and he took his last breath and went to be with Jesus. But God didn’t let His peace stop there… the calmness and peace in our home was felt by everyone here. There was no drama or theatrics. No hysterical crying or moaning. Just peace. And later, much laughter. You can't be in a room with all of my daughters and not laugh.

Cara, Scott’s beloved nurse assured me that I took such great care of him and that I should write a book about how to properly care for a dying hospice patient. Well, I kept thinking about that and the only thing that stands in the way is that people have to know and believe in God. They have to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in them so that they can love that person unconditionally because without the Power of God a person truly CANNOT love another person unconditionally.

This is a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp. You have to be able to trust and obey a Being you cannot touch and feel. It was hard for me to do, but I really believed that my God is a great big God and I knew that I could trust Him and Him alone to get me through the hardest parts.

So, that being said, I may do some kind of “book” but I’ll let God dictate it. Because, without Him, I am NOTHING. I know NOTHING, and I’m NOTHING.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I will still love You, Lord, I will still love You!