Listening to our grand-daughter, MJ, I can’t help but chuckle every time she says these three words: “I got it!”
Jumping into the pool … I got it!
Opening her juice box … I got it!
Putting on her sandals … I got it!
You name it, she’s got it. And as someone who’s soon to be 3, this is an important phrase to learn and commandeer so cheerfully.
Thinking back over the past three weeks, I reflect on the hours spent sitting with my friend at her mother’s bedside. Cancer. Terminal. Time for Hospice. Nothing more they can really do. Just keep her comfortable. It won’t be long.
Short sentences, spoken in hushed tones.
We watched as she and her husband moved her Mom into their home and set up “shop” in the living room, right in the middle of the action. Near the kitchen and the TV and the dinner table, exactly where she wanted to be.
Hubbs and I visited often, sitting with them all and sometimes the guys would slip out back to stand under the stars and get away from the inevitable. And sometimes we did, too.
This friend is the child in her family who takes care of everyone, makes sure holidays are organized, helped others pay their bills, cooked and cleaned for her Mom and worked a full-time job. She’s been the go-to gal and her stepping forward and taking on this next step was not a surprise, as daunting as it was.
I visited with her and her Mom every day of my vacation and last Monday before I left for St. Louis. Truthfully, we were amazed she was still hanging on. But spirit does that sometimes; sometimes there are words left unsaid and work yet to be done.
Sons and cousins, aunties and friends stopped to see her one last time and I’ve pondered on how difficult those visits can be. How tough it is to say what you mean to say as emotions are strangling your words. I listened when my friend shared moments of awe and wonder: her Mom rocking a baby she’d lost years ago and asking where those little girls went, the ones who’d been playing near her just now. When I thought she was sleeping her eyes would pop open and she’d smile at me and say, “Nice dress, where’d ya get it?” Then we’d laugh and we’d cry and we’d laugh again.
I watched the fatigue etch my friend’s face as days turned into weeks, surviving on coffee and snippets of sleep.
I saw the love in her eyes as she tenderly washed her Mother’s face and helped the Home Health Aide change the sheets. The sounds of game shows and gospel music permeated the room.
When I got back into town Friday, it was Hubbs who’d committed us to visiting that evening. Hubbs – who’d rather be outside for the rest of his life than be in and face what was transpiring – but he did, because somehow he had a feeling and he was right.
And, as was our pattern, we hugged and comforted and laughed and cried and when asked how her Mom was my friend asked, “do you want to come see?” and I said “yes I do.” We saw the shift those four days had taken on her, on all of them. The time was nearing and it was soon.
And that’s when little Miss MJ’s words came to me.
I leaned down, placed my hand on her Mother’s arm and whispered, “I got it. I got your girl and I will help her through this; I don’t want you to worry about it … we’ll make sure she’s OK.”
I don’t know if she heard me but I like to think she did.
My friend heard and we hugged as she cried and it wasn’t long before my tears matched hers. And as we stood there facing what was to come, we saw her Mom relax a little. Sitting down, we said a prayer for her homecoming and for strength and courage in the days ahead. And with that her Mother, by now resembling a little baby bird, grabbed her wings and flew on home.
* * *
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalms 23:4
* * *
Have you ever witnessed death?
How did the experience affect you?