Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just in the Nick of Time

The call was so out of the blue that we had no idea if we were dreaming or not. The decision should be easy. Coming home would staunch the flow of financial blood. We might be able to start playing catch up...again. The hitch was that little phrase, “6-9 months”.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
He had a direct job in a company and with people he had grown to really care about. He found the job and the environment incredibly stimulating. He could hear 3 foreign languages on a single aisle. Everyone was new and from some other place, so bonds formed quickly. The thoughts ricocheting around our brains were difficult to keep track of as we tried to formulate a decision making paradigm. What was the lesser of 2 risks? There wasn't one really.

The boys came to me separately from each other. Both sets of brows were knit in furrows. Yet again in their short lives, life was more perplexing than most kids their age could imagine. “Is Daddy coming home? Won't you talk to him? Tell him we need him to come home....” You know it's been pretty tough if even your soon to be 20-year-old is asking for Dad.

I sighed deeply and explained that this decision was one we had to trust their Dad to make. I reminded them about his decision to file Chapter 13 even tho' the attorney said no one would care what we filed when it was all said and done. “Remember? People did care that we could have filed Chapter 7 and filed 13 instead. We wouldn't be sitting in this house now had your Dad not made that tough decision. I can't ask him to walk away from the most exciting job he's ever had. We will find a way to get thru one more year like this one, and then we will all be together again in Tennessee.”

Thinking about that conversation now, I almost feel as tho' I could hyperventilate. At the time, I was too numb to think or feel much of anything. The next thing to do was check for clean clothes, clean dishes, and food. The next thing then was to go to the hospital and see what the day held there.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
It was a Monday. Jeff called. “I've made my decision. I'm staying. I'm going to call my old boss around lunchtime.” The abyss swallowed me whole. I had to tell the boys. The looks on their faces said it all.

Tuesday just happened. I don't even remember now what the trigger was. I just knew our son had endured all he could take and that the news we had another year to face without respite was more than he could bear. I called Jeff. “I'm sorry it is the middle of the work day, but if you have to come home today and go back tomorrow, I need help.” I had never made a request like that in all of our marriage. He told me he'd call Son #1 and try to get a handle on things.

Less than 5 minutes later, the phone rang. “I think I was getting ready to make a huge mistake. I think God used Son #1 to get my attention and make me realize I need to come home. Now. I've already typed up my notice. I'll turn it in as soon as I call my old boss and clear everything.” I would have collapsed in relief, but I guess I had already collapsed. Sheer force of will wasn't even propelling me anymore. I just got up, showered, and headed back to the hospital feeling as dead inside as I had felt since before the day I fell in the rain and mud.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I sensed that there would be fallout from the decision just made. In the que of life, concern about that development would have to wait. The doctors kept saying mom was getting stronger. They'd begin to wean her off the vent only to have to halt the process and give her more respiratory support. She started attending to some simple needs like brushing her teeth, putting on socks, and combing her hair. My once fastidious mother had not had a real shampoo in well over a month. She had 2 goals: use the bedside commode and be able to tolerate the portable sink for a real shampoo. She never even asked to drink or eat anymore. She'd just nod and agree when asked to do the next thing. Funny, looking back on it....we could have been twins in that regard.

I could see the toll on my dad, sister, and brother-in-law. I could hear it in my brother's voice when he called from his home 12 hours or so away. The best I could do for them was interpret the test results and medical-ese the doctors relayed during rounds. Beyond that, the lights were on with no one home.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Jeff took a nose dive. I can't even remember now why. Probably the ever persistent upper respiratory crises. We realized I would have to go and help him pack up to move back home. Mom had survived her own bout with sepsis and another round of other bacterial infections. The pneumonia that caused her admission was never fully conquered. It would abate for a while and re-emerge. Again, she nodded her approval. “Go. Hurry.” I did.

We finished packing him and hurried him home. Her MD's evaluated his status and ok'd his going to see her. He got home just in time to spend lots of time with her during her last 2 weeks of life. I can't imagine her dying without his being close by. She had meant so much to him. He had meant so much to her. The day before she died, his voice cracked, “I cannot remember a single time I've ever left your mother that she has not told me she was praying for me and then told me how. I can't remember my own mother ever telling me she prayed for me...ever..in my entire life. Yet, your mother never went without telling me every time she saw me.”

What's a son-in-law to do without a mother-in-law like that? Especially when his wife cannot find the voice to cry out to that good God she had spent so many years telling so many people about.

Dear fellow fraidy cat, your fear has a different name and cause. You may not have met your fraidy cat yet. To some of you, it will seem as if I stubbed my spiritual toe on something so inconsequential that you can't comprehend my descent. Others of you, I haven't had to explain a thing because it takes one to know one. Whatever the case, you humble me by your decision to click this link. I hope you'll come again and bring a friend. My sorry tale is almost told. The time will come that I will have other stories to share. I'll keep writing, so you keep coming back, ok? 

Acts 20:24 (Bible in Basic English)
But I put no value on my life, if only at the end of it I may see the work complete which was given to me by the Lord Jesus, to be a witness of the good news of the grace of God.


  1. Your writing touches my heart ... the very deep part of my heart. Susan

  2. For that, Susan, I am thankful. No writer that I know of could ask for more. Blessings...