July 20, 2009

The contrast experience brings

Jrex has seen a lot of death. Part of what makes him an amazing oncologist is that he's not afraid of it. In fact, part of his mission is to help individuals and families experience a 'good death'. What makes a good death? Acceptance. Saying farewell. Tying up loose ends. Meeting death with dignity (and even humor). We will all go into that good night. While there are definitely times to 'rage against the dying of the light', there are also times to say au revoir and lovingly send one's loved one ahead.

Jrex has seen that farewell coming for the last four days. Dad K's developed clots in his arm, which means a week after a head bleed, he's on anti-coagulants. So, either the clot gets loose and shoots into his lung (which could kill him) or he gets another head bleed (which would further incapacitate whatever's left of his brain function). Over the weekend, what responses FIL had have diminished. He's not turning toward voices. When Jrex lifts the eyelids, FIL's pupils are barely responding to light. If his foot is tickled, he doesn't pull away. He's going. Jrex has NOT told his mother or his sister what he knows.

In fact, three days ago, his sister YJ had a dream in which she saw FIL's spirit leaving his body and being pulled back over and over. She told Jrex about it. He heard that and thought, 'we need to let him go', while his sister said, "We're not doing enough to keep him here."

However, due to the miracles of modern medicine, we are at a horrifying juncture. They've taken him off the vent, but he's breathing on his own. He's fed through a tube for now. Two years ago, FIL specifically told Jrex he didn't want to linger on if there was no hope of recovery. The doctors have initiated a family meeting for tomorrow to discuss options. At the moment, Jrex sees two. Option 1: move what is left of FIL into a nursing home and wait untold days, weeks, months, years? What that theoretically allows is time for God to do a miracle. Option 2: make him comfortable. Wet his mouth so he doesn't feel thirsty, but let him go. Which could take three days or more.

I told him there's no way his Mom is ready for Option 2. I think it's what his Dad would prefer, but there's no way she could let that happen.

I just called him and he said they were in the hospital but he was really happy I'd given him a reason to leave the room. "What happened?!"

"Mom turned to me and said, 'He doesn't look good. He's getting worse right?' I told her yes. Then she asked, 'Is he going to make it?' and I said, 'I don't think so'. And then she started crying and calling his name and telling him we all want to see him. Don't go. Don't leave us. It is heartbreaking and I just couldn't be there anymore."

I don't want Dad K to not be here, but I don't want him to be held here when I know that we're holding him back from the presence of Joy. My prayer had become for total healing or total freedom. Now I'm asking that if the Lord isn't healing Dad K, that He would truly take him. Give us Option 3.

That Dad K may go gently into that good night. That Jrex would not be seen as the bad guy just because he's not fighting death. That Mom K would be able to say au revoir.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

—Dylan Thomas


Snickollet said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. As I said on FB, I'm hoping for peace for your whole family.

Beloved said...

This is heartbreaking. I am so sad for all of you. Thinking of you and praying for peace and comfort.

NGS said...

I'm so sorry. Modern medicine does leave us with lots of conundrums. I hope your family can figure out what to do with peace and grace. My thoughts are with you.

mary said...

i pray for option 3. Lord have mercy.

Rachel said...

My thoughts are with all of you. I will pray for a 'good death' for FIL. (I remember that awful limbo all too well. . .)

Inkling said...

I'm praying with you. And I really mean "with you".

Lil Sis said...

I will pray as you do, with the wishes for your FIL, Jrex and the rest of the family.

When my father passed, it was I believe due to us telling him it was ok to go, that we were letting him go and to be in peace. He died that same evening.

In Jesus' name I pray for the peace only God can provide you all.

Lots of Love,

Aimee said...

I agree with Lil' Sis. Before my aunt died, everyone was asking her to stay, and I strongly feel she held on, but wanted to go. After praying, I felt compelled to tell her it was ok to go. Sometimes, our loved ones need to be released.

If Jrex gets a few moments alone with his Dad, he could tell him how much he loves him, promise to take care of Mom K and release him. Maybe that's what he needs.

OTRgirl said...

I totally agree. Jrex already did that this weekend. After his Mom and sister left the room, he leaned over and said into Dad's ear, "We love you, Dad. We'll be ok, you can go home." It was emotional for him to do. I commended him on it, but told him that I think unfortunately at this point, I think Dad needs to hear it from my MIL.