I Have Fought The Good Fight
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” 2Timothy 4:7-8
It has only been three days since the decision to enter into palliative care was made and many emotional events have transpired. On Friday I told the people at work what was happening which lead to many conversations. Like any difficult task, the more you work on it the easier it becomes. By the end of the day, I wasn’t feeling like tears were going to come at any moment when someone asked what was happening.
On Saturday, a beautiful young couple at church was crowned and married. If you don’t know what I mean by crowned, think My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I served on the altar for their marriage and there were several times that I thought I might end up coming apart. One of the lines from the processional psalms reads, “May you see your children’s children”. And during the dance of Isaiah “And you, O Bride, be magnified as was Sarah, and rejoiced as was Rebecca, and increased as Rachel, being glad in your husband.” But even with those lines that had me sad, it was impossible not to be overjoyed at the beginning of married life for the new couple. The church was full, the families were so happy and the liturgy was incredible. In the receiving line, the bride said that she was praying for Theresa and my family. For me, all I could do was give her a smile because the words escaped me at that moment.
This morning, Ryan asked me if the doctors had given a percentage whether or not his Mom would “make it”. I told him they did not and he asked what I thought was going to happen. I turned the question around and asked for his thoughts. He said he didn’t think she was going to make it. We had a heartfelt talk after that and for a boy who doesn’t like to talk about his feelings, he was very open today. He said that it wasn’t fair and that for ten years Mom was the best Mom ever. He also said that he wanted her to see him graduate from college, start an engineering company, get married and have children. He said if he had known she was going to die, he would have spent all of his time with her. We talked about that a lot and I told him that he wouldn’t have done that because his Mom wouldn’t have wanted that for him. He asked if he could stay with her this morning and spend some time together. I told him yes and he wanted to read some scripture to her. I suggested Psalm 22 and 23 as starting points and he was reading them to her when I left for church.
This morning, Fr. Rankin made an announcement about our decision to the gathered church. He mentioned that the Divine Liturgy was for the deceased relatives of one of the parish members. After that he said that we are also mindful of the wonderful Sacrament of Baptism that was celebrated the previous week and that we are also mindful of the fulfillment of the Baptismal Promise, eternal life in the Kingdom, that Theresa is moving towards. After the Divine Liturgy, I had so many conversations with friends and my parish family about this. The suddenness of Theresa’s decline has many people sad and at a loss for words.
We had planned on having the hospice nurse come on Monday April 18 to complete the paperwork, conduct an initial screening and start the process. But, Theresa is unable to move out of the bed anymore. I walked her to the bathroom, but she ended up sitting down on the floor. I had to lift her under her arms and body drag her back to the bed. I know the pain of this had to be intense and I knew it was time to get the hospice people out tonight. She is also unable to swallow her medicine and we need the liquid morphine. The nurse signed us up and completed her initial screening of Theresa. She asked to talk outside of the room and told us that she believes it will be just a few days, possibly hours before Theresa is gone.
Theresa had several visitors today. Our good friends, the Way family, came by with all of their 8 children. They spent some time with Theresa and took all of the kids back to see her. She may not be able to communicate anymore, but her eyes fixated on the kids. Two of whom are her god-children. They chanted some prayer and sang the hymn of victory, Christ is Risen from the dead! While they were in singing to Theresa, Father Andriy Chirovsky and his wife Halyna came by to visit. They said they were going to bring us dinner and did they ever. I think they brought half of Costco with them! It was so generous and kind of them to do so. Fr. Andriy and Halyna spent some time in quiet prayer with Theresa and celebrated the anointing of the sick.
Finally, Fr. Rankin came by tonight to pray with Theresa, bring Holy Communion and he spent some time alone with her to prepare her for the next journey she is about to begin. During some time alone with Theresa today I told her the she was about the meet Christ and The Theotokos face to face and that she would be free of all the pain and participate in the never ending liturgy with all the angels and saints. There were tears rolling down her face. I believe she is ready to start that journey.
Christ is Risen!