Friday, January 8, 2010

What to hope for?

My uncle, the one from here, has been on a downward spiral since writing that post.  Last night at 10:30 he took another one.  The family has been called and is taking turns sitting with him to comfort him.  He is unresponsive but he cries or whimpers when he is in pain.  His breathing is very labored and induces more pain for him with each breath.  When you walk into his room, you can sense death lingering.
Having worked in the hospital for so long, I would even say you could smell it.  The palliative level has a smell; whether it is a mixture of all sorts of things like bed pans and the like, it has a smell and, to me, it smells like death.  It smells like sadness.

I counted the number of times my uncle was able to breathe in one minute, and with each came a protest of pain from his shallow body.  His breathes ranged from 25 to 40, and I call them gasps because that is the only way to describe them, per minute.  With each breath his body his trying desperately to cling to life while he has given himself over to death.  With each pause between gasps, we would begin to wonder if death had finally won and he would breathe again, and I am not sure if we were relieved to see and hear it or if it broke our hearts more knowing he has more yet to endure.

His son and daughter know that he is dying yet, they have yet to come to him.  It has been years since they have spoken to him, angry at him for whatever it is that occurred behind the closed doors of their house.  I had hoped they would come - if for nothing else than to remove some burdens for themselves, dump whatever grudges they have toward their father so it doesn't continue to weigh on them, say whatever they want to say {tell him they're sorry, tell him they hate him, tell him that they don't understand but they are willing to forgive...)

Tonight, after church, I am willing to be taking my "turn" sitting by his side, waiting to see if another labored, painful breath comes or not.  My husband, not in a cruel way, said, "What good will it do to sit there?  What does it do other than make the family feel better?"  And I had no answer for him but I think I do now.  He may be unresponsive but I am sure he can hear us and I think he will find some comfort knowing that he is not alone as he labors, as he cries, that he has family around him that loves him even if his own children don't.   If I can offer him some sort of peace, comfort, and security as he takes his last precious breaths let it be done.

As I prepare myself with the things I will want for tonight, should he make it that long, I wonder what do I hope for?  Do I hope for that second breath to come?  That second breath labored through pain? Or do I hope for his breathing to be silenced, for peace to finally come?  And as I type that, I find hot tears filling my eyes and spilling onto my cheeks.  Wanting him to linger is so selfish but wishing for him to linger no more seems so cold and heartless and wrong... Yet through my grief, I feel comforted; I know my God is near.  Please, if you are feeling lead to pray about this situation, don't pray for us.  Yes, we will be left to mourn but we are all strong and we all know it is coming and we all know that it is best; we will not need your prayers.  Please, if you feel lead, pray for my uncle; that his fight would end soon, painlessly and peacefully.  Pray for those who, like him, are in a fight for their lives.  Pray, especially, for the children who are fighting, whose breath is as labored as my uncle's. My uncle has lived his life, not as long as he could have {he is 67 years old) but he has lived it.  Their's is yet to be lived.  Focus your prayers on them, that they may find wholeness, restoration and renewing, that their young bodies will be healed, finding them to, once again, be filled with laughter and life.  Pray for them, dear friends; they still have hope, desire and a will to live.  My God can heal them.  My God can heal my uncle too; he is just past the point of wanting to be healed now he simply wants out.  His body is as broken as his heart has been.


  1. What a thoughtful person you compassionate and truly God's hands and feet. I will pray that this draws everyone closer to God and that it may even change some people's hearts to accept Christ when they see the love that you and others have displayed all the while giving Glory to God.

    Matthew 25:43-45 (New American Standard Bible)

    43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'

    44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

    45"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

    I pray that God will bring comfort and healing to people who are suffering and broken, if it be His will.

    Much love and hope,
    We are Nine

  2. I am so sorry your uncle remains in so much pain. I pray for his pain to be released soon, and that he finds comfort in his afterlife. I know how hard it is to watch someone you love slowly pass, but it never gets easier to say or relate comforting words. Please know I am keeping your uncle in my prayers. I wish I lived closer so I could help release this burden from your shoulders a little bit. Sending hugs and love your way. xoxo.