Change is continuous …
All you have to do is to take down some of the old photo albums to recognise that truth.
When someone says you haven’t changed a bit, they’re either lying or not very observant!
As Christians we are expected to change, isn’t that what the role of the Holy Spirit is? Isn’t He working daily and little by little transforming us into someone more like Jesus?
Birth is celebrated, we look forward to it with anticipation. Will it be a boy or a girl? These days it’s not too difficult to find out ahead of times.
There are changes during pregnancy, and after that life is one huge change!
We don’t celebrate the death of a loved one. It’s a time for reflection, anger, fear and tears.
The reality of the power of death is breath taking … literally!
It’s not that we don’t have faith and a hope for the future. As children of God we have a destiny being prepared for us by Jesus Himself, Christian or non-Christian, regardless of how prepared we are, death is still shocking.
Today I want to share a very personal memory.
It involves the ultimate change … death.
The sneaky thing is back!
I should have picked it up sooner when she and dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
It was a surprise occasion; both of them believed that they were going out for a quiet evening together.
What they didn’t know was that the family had organised a surprise party at the retirement village where they both lived.
Some of their original wedding party had agreed to attend this special occasion.
Mum looked stressed rather than astonished when the surprise was ‘sprung’ and I thought that a little strange.
Mum was a ‘peoples person’. She enjoyed company and was never happier than when the craic was good. That night she seemed different, distant.
It was several weeks later that mum called. Nothing new there as she often called to chat with her grand children, Hema and me.
‘The sneaky thing is back.’
What sneaky thing?
What sneaky thing? What was mum talking about? I
t took several moments to realise what she meant.
Mum had been diagnosed with cancer ten years prior.
One operation and a course of chemotherapy had shown that she was in remission.
Now the cancer was back.
Mum had a battle on her hands.
She had beaten it once and she would do so again. I felt optimistic. Mum still had a lot of living to do.
God heals and He would do it in mum’s life. I was sure of it.
Over the following weeks I come to understand that the prognosis was not good. It was only a matter of time … but how much, no one knew.
The doctors recommended a course of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour, however an operation was out of the question.
It was then I realised mum was dying.
There was no earthly hope.
Only a miracle could save her.
I had never faced death before . . . I mean not in such a personal way.
Of course I’d encountered it with the death of uncles, aunties, grandparents and friends, but somehow this was different.
This was immediate family.
What was I supposed to do, how was I supposed to respond?
This was like flying in cloud with no instruments to guide.
Denial. . . This could not be happening.
‘God help me I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to do.’
Ask Uncle Google
When uncertain or in doubt Google it!
‘Crossing the Creek’ by Michael Holmes provided a wealth of information.
The book is no longer available but information can be obtained online. I recommend it for anyone who has a loved one going through the death and dying process.
All we could do was to try to make mum’s last days as comfortable as possible and part of this process involved her spending time in palliative care, where she would receive 24 hours a day specialist care.
Facing the facts
As a person of faith I didn’t fear death. Jesus had already conquered it, but dying was a very uncomfortable reality I didn’t want to face yet. Not for a long, long time.
Palliative care brought that ugly reality into stark focus. Pain and dying was the stark truth, no niceties and nowhere to hide.
Unless a miracle happened, those who entered as patients never left alive.
The best out come was a comfortable death.
We lived hour to hour, never knowing when the end would come.
Mum appeared to be at peace. Dad, my sister and brothers were blessed to spend time with her right up until the time she passed into eternity.
The Reflective Room
In the palliative care centre there was a small ‘reflective’ room where patients and family members could spend time in contemplation. People were encouraged to write short messages on small black stones. These stones then became integral elements in the remembrance garden. I remember writing something but what exactly, I can’t remember.
Later Shannon, my eleven-year-old son, and I ambled together through the gardens, ending up at the ‘Reflective’ room.
‘What are these black stones for dad?’
‘People write messages on them. A message to their loved one.’
‘Dad, can I write on one?’
‘Sure, go ahead.’
I waited as he took a stone and began to write. I didn’t look, that message was something very personal and I didn’t wish to intrude.
‘Is this OK, dad?
Tears welled in my eyes.
‘Why are you crying, dad? Did I make a mistake? You’re hurting me?’
‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hug you so hard. Its perfect, absolutely perfect.’
Mum entered a coma and at 9:50pm, 13 February 2003 passed over. She battled until the very end.
A week later 400 friends and family celebrated the life of Ruby Jean Semple, 3 February 1925 – 13 February 2003.
On the commemorative order of service was written Shannon’s message to his beloved Grandmother.
‘See you in Heaven, Grandma.’
Over to you
God used Shannon to deliver a message of hope when my faith was being tested.
Has God ever used children to speak truth/ or wisdom into your life?
If He has I’d love to hear and learn from your experience(s).
Spread the word
If you found this blog encouraging, inspiring, confronting, even amusing, Thank you.
why not share it’s message with someone who could use it’s encouragement.
Until next week … best regards.
The NWBC Blogging Team
email the message