Monday, January 11, 2010

Mimi-- letter from Papaw

Dear Family,
Jeannine and/or I are with Mimi 24 hours a day now. We take turns sitting with her and getting her medicine or water or putting Vitamin E oil on her lips or washing with a warm cloth. And Jeannine is sleeping on 3 cushions on the floor of the bedroom near Mimi's hospital bed and of course I sleep in the regular bed so we're both where we wake up quickly if she stirs much at all.
The hospice nurse told us today that, judging from the changes taking place, she thinks Mimi still has several days left to live on this earth. For our part, we know that she has the same number of days "ordained for [her] . . . before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16 NIV She will be here until God says it's time to take her home--and in this "cause-and-effect" universe that He created, it looks like it will only be a matter of days. So we're doing everything we can to make her last few days on earth as comfortable as we can with minimal pain. She sleeps most of the time--probably at least 20 or 21 or more hours in each 24-hour day.
When she awakes groggily for a little while she can barely whisper so it's so important that Jeannine is here to hear what she says because I can only understand a few whispers. At one point today she told of a dream but couldn't remember it so we told her that was all right. Another time she spoke almost in her sleep, "He's such a pretty baby!" And we don't know whether she meant her 3 new great-grandsons or her own sons remembering them from childhood???
Yesterday was the last day she was relatively articulate--though very groggy. I'll never forget yesterday morning. I was standing beside her bed when she woke up. When she saw me, she smiled weakly and said in a very soft but clear voice, "I love you!"
She is so weak and feeble you would be dismayed to see her, and I sit quietly and weep sometimes when I'm watching over her--or even thinking about it. But even in her condition we can see the love and appreciation in her very slow movements and mannerisms and in her eyes. Since she is having such difficulty articulating anything, we have to be alert to signs of pain and anything she might need. We can see when her brow is furrowing in pain and Jeannine, at the suggestion of one of the 4 hospice nurses who have attended her, is using a syringe with a small capacity (20 cc) to give her water when she wants it and her pain meds (oxycodone is all she's taking + whatever is included in some of the anti-nausea medicines). And we also bought a foam pad to cover the hospital bed to make it more comfortable.
Jeannine just called me to help her with the medicines and to help prop Mimi on her side with pillows for a change of position. When I came back to the computer, Mimi had a very peaceful look on her face while she is sleeping.
In the midst of your [our] grief and sorrow, keep those two overwhelmingly important truths in the front and center of your mind: when Mimi's body dies (and it nearly has), Mimi will still be alive. Her body is dead but "she", the real Mimi in her mind, spirit, soul is more alive than ever. "Have you not read," Jesus asked, "that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Jesus' quotation is from the Old Testament when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, identifying Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--all of whom had died some 300 or 400 years before Moses. But God says they are still living. And so Mimi will still be alive--and free from pancreatic cancer and all the other infirmities of the flesh.
In what form you ask? The answer is in Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV. "You have come . . . to the city of the living God." And who is there? "thousands of angels in joyful assembly." And "you have come to God" and "to Jesus" and what else? "to the spirits of righteous men made perfect." So Mimi's spirit will be immediately with Jesus. "To depart and be with Christ is far better." Phil.1:23 God and the angels are "spirit" and they don't have any trouble getting along and seeing and doing, etc. Neither will Mimi. The real person inside your body is spirit and we live in the "tent" of our bodies as dwelling places. Eventually, of course, after the resurrection, we will spend eternity in our glorified bodies--"like unto Jesus' glorious body." Phil.3:21
And 2) remember that this very, very painful separation from Mimi is temporary. We shall see her again in heaven--if we know Jesus as Savior and Lord. And I hope all of you do.
We'll let you know what happens next--when it happens. Pray for Jeannine and me. This is the hardest most difficult "tribulation" of our entire lives--and I'm 76 years old. (And she, a scant 52).
Papaw (and & for Mimi) & Jeannine

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