Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The dying and the living

A few days ago, Tony placed his hand on my growing belly to feel our baby Caleb moving. His eyes lit up as he whispered to me, "I feel him! He is such a strong boy. I can't wait until he is here." Afterwards, he closed his eyes and slept for a few more hours.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for our family. Tony slowly began losing the ability to walk or get up without great assistance, his voice became quiet and only whispers came out of his mouth, and his consciousness was beginning to fade. A really hard decision had to be made: do we try to continue these last two treatments until his next MRI, or do we transition now to hospice? Tony was unable to help in the decision, not fully understanding his new deficits and lack of energy. By Monday (just two days ago), I knew it was time and that this would be the best support for him and our family. Talking with our doctor on the phone, he agreed and said the treatments are no longer helping and his significant decline means we are nearing the end. Tony could have anywhere from a few days to six weeks; every patient is so different making it difficult to determine an accurate time frame. My prayer for Tony right now is that he can remain without pain and that he can be at peace with our family.

Hospice arrived yesterday and set up a hospital bed and all the other support we need. Tony had declined so much in one day that he had to be carried downstairs to where we are keeping his hospital bed. He is next to a cozy gas fireplace with his Christmas gift from our kids wrapped around him. He loves his new blanket (pictured above) and enjoys listening to the kids point pictures out and talk about each memory. Tony now sleeps most of the time and is fading quickly. I am so happy that he currently is in no pain and is still aware of us being around him when he is awake. My mom is staying with us to care for the kids 24/7 so that I can sit by Tony's side as often as needed. And Tony's male members of his family have been able to help me care for Tony's physical needs since he can no longer get out of bed. Our needs are being met very well right now.

As Tony placed his hand on my stomach, I watched as he tenderly expressed his love for this baby and our children. Watching my dying husband place his hand near our living, growing baby welled up soft tears in my eyes. Something tender and sweet swelled in my heart while accompanied with grief and sadness. The grief stayed for a short while and then faded as I looked toward heaven thanking for such amazing miracles we have experienced and will continue to experience. If we just look a little further, we will always see how miraculous and wonderful our lives are and how loved we are by our Heavenly Father.

I prayed to God that if we must undergo this deep sadness and loss in order for us to become as He is, than I will do it willingly. I don't want to, it's too painful to look into the future and see an empty space at our table, and to feel half my heart dying with him. But I do trust God with that same heart, and I know that He will help me to heal and that my Savior does understand me completely. I may lose half my heart but the half that is remaining will grow stronger over time. I know we will be okay and that wherever I lack in raising our seven children, God will make up for my inadequacies and mistakes and will be there for our babies every step of the way. He loves us and will never forsake us.

Again, I want to continue to thank you for so much love and support, especially for the power of your prayers. Right now we will be spending every moment we can as a family and will focus on keeping our home as quiet and as sacred as we can in order to help our kids. With Tony's current condition, he can no longer respond to phone calls, texts, or messages but if you would like to share a word with him, please contact me and I will relay your thoughts to him as best I can. For right now, I won't be responding to messages but will do so when I get the time in a later date so please know that I am not ignoring you ;) Time is precious and each day is a gift. We love you all.