I looked death in the face. Her face was contorted with her mouth hanging open, and I was frightened for just a split second. She looked like a skeleton, with her breath barely audible as it rattled through her bones. I couldn’t believe that only days before, my children had put on a comedy show for her, and she didn’t seem to be at death’s door. Yes, her lateral sclerosis was causing her to deteriorate fast. Just two years ago she was completely normal, walking around and laughing. And now she was in a wheelchair, unable to speak. Last Monday my husband said to her, “You will be with Christ soon.” With a trembling hand, she pointed to the letters n-o-w. She wanted to die.
She looked at me with such an intense look, like she wanted desperately to tell me something. I knew that she felt trapped inside her body. I knew that she was just waiting to die. I couldn’t stand it. When I went home that night, I prayed something I thought I would never pray for someone that I loved. I begged God to strike her dead. I just didn’t want her to suffer any more.
Two days later, her husband called me. She had taken a turn for the worse, and if I wanted to say good-bye, now was the time. She only had days left. As I hung up the phone, I cried. I told my husband what I had prayed, and he wasn’t shocked. He didn’t look at me with horror as I sobbed convulsively with grief and guilt. He said, “This is what she wanted.”
When I arrived at her house two days later, her family was gathered there, signing papers. The scene was almost surreal. It was horrible to see her that way. Her husband told me that her grandkids were trying to sing her some hymns. I was left alone in the room with the two grandkids. I hugged her, even though she looked like the screaming mummy in that Egypt video my family had watched last fall, the one that had given my son nightmares. I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I was hugging a living corpse; I loved her, and I was not afraid. I boldly began singing the great hymns of our faith. I landed on the hymn, “Heaven Came Down,” and as tears were streaming down my face, I sang, “When at the cross, my Savior made me whole…” Yes, this is what she wanted.
I must have sung for an hour. Toilet paper was passed to me over and over, and her family members kept apologizing that they didn’t have kleenex. I told them I didn’t care. I was the only one there that didn’t belong. But her family just loved me and treated me like one of them. They talked about memories of her childhood, about her father, about so many things I never knew. Then I talked to her daughter for quite a while. I told her how her mother had been hospitable, even when she couldn’t speak or hardly move. There were two Bible studies over at her house last fall, raking leaves and cleaning up for the winter. When the people came inside, I was called over to translate for her, since I understood her best. She was asking me to pass out the brownies I’d brought, which I had forgotten all about. Everyone laughed at how she was still taking care of everyone, even though she could barely move.
Several hours passed, and I decided that I should go home. I said good-bye to everyone, and as I was driving away, I cried out to God in an almost angry tone, “Please take her NOW!” My vision was blurry as I wiped tears from my face.
Later that night, I was told that she passed away as soon as I drove away.Tweet