Saturday, November 30, 2013

Amy's last month-part 3

We were in the ambulance for about an hour, arriving around 12:30pm. I was able to ride in the front and my husband, Bill,  and oldest daughter, Tess, were following after us in the car. I started things off well when I refused to leave Amy alone so the nurses could get her on the bed and take her vitals, etc. I held my ground and finally after a stare down with Nurse Jackie, she gave in.  All they saw on paper is a 30 year old with breathing problems. They were not prepared for one so tiny in size nor unable to communicate with them.  Nurse Jackie changed her demeanor when she realized that I was Amy's voice, stayed out of their way, and I was not one of "those" moms. The doctor did not come in for a couple of hours and then he ordered another x-ray, more blood work, and a catheter put in. The same tests all over again. Poor Amy. She loved excitement and people paying attention to her, but not being stuck with needles or catheter tubes and moved from bed to machines, or even lifting her up each time to put the different x-ray screens under her. Her skin was so thin and I was always watching for bed sores. She only ever had a few of them and that was on her feet and lower legs because I wasn't careful at all times to keep a pillow between her knees and feet. That was.......until this hospital stay. 
As I insisted on staying with her at all times that meant overnight. They reluctantly agreed and I was told later that no one had ever stayed over night in the ICU for about 20 years. 
Bill and Tess left in the late afternoon and then Tess and my youngest daughter, Emily, came back with some stuff for me that evening. We did not know at the time, but the daily trips over the mountain and back were going to become a routine for the next month. The trip takes about an hour and it snowed every day, except for three days.
Thursday had been quite a day for Amy, but neither of us slept much that night. Amy was so used to falling asleep to music and so I sang to her some and tried to comfort her, but that only succeeded in me getting sleepy and she was still wide awake! 

Friday, March 1
The Dr. and about a dozen interns (it is a teaching hospital) came in and discussed Amy's case. They decided to take the breathing tube out around noon. As the blood oxygen monitor would not stay on Amy's finger or toe they put it on her forehead. So she had this red light on her forehead with a huge piece of tape to keep it on. The breathing tube was taken out successfully and now she had two bright red spots on her cheeks where the tape had been.  Amy ate jello, drank apple juice, and sips of ice water. She had not eaten or drank anything for about 42 hours. She was very happy! She loved to eat! Tess and Bill came and Amy had more jello and a lot of juice. The Dr. said she had an urinary tract infection and pnemonia. It would clear up with medication and breathing treatments. The monitor was taken off her forehead as she kept rolling her eyes up to try to look at it and so they tried taping it to her toe again. Nurse Jackie was wonderful and talked to Amy, not just us. 
After a tearful goodbye with Amy, Bill and I left, and Tess stayed the night with her.
Bill was leaving for a week on a ministry trip to Andros Island
in the Bahamas. It sounds luxurious for a place to go in early March, but the people there are very poor and the year before Bill went with a team and worked on a church. This time they were building a house for a lady and her children.
We had no idea that Amy was so seriously ill. Bill would have never gone if he knew that he only had a few weeks left to share Amy's sweet smile and her unconditional love. I cried buckets when he left in the early hours of the morning. It was snowing pretty heavy and I had to drive to the hospital, so began Day 3 of this journey.

As I continue my study of Romans.
Chapter 11: 33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge 
of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable 
His ways!  
For who has known the mind of the Lord, 
or who became His counselor?  
Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?   
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. 
To Him be the glory forever. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Washington DC and Amy's last month part 2

Some friends of our invited us to visit Washington DC with them last weekend. We had a wonderful time, although it was very cold! We parked outside the city and took the Metro in.  I haven't ridden on a subway for 30 years and it was exciting but not the kind of daily life I would like to live. It was also very sad as we saw many people begging and so many homeless people in the city. They were wrapped up in  whatever they owned with a tarp or piece of plastic around them. I think it got in the 20's the night we were there and it was so very windy. I will have to pray for God to give me a way to help some of them.

We walked a lot, visited some museums and ate at The Cheescake Factory. That evening we went to see "A Christmas Carol" in Fords Theater.    (That was the theater where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.)  The production really touched my heart. It was a musical and all of the songs they sang were traditional Christmas Carols.  The songs pointed to Christ many times as our hope and I realized that I have been looking at the commercial side of Christmas and not the real meaning of Christmas. Even with the story line of Tiny Tim, I didn't feel sad, but only joy. I was inspired to at least recognize Christmas this year by hanging wreaths on our doors and making some cookies to share. I will try my best to think of others this season and remember how happy Amy is sharing this Christmas with her Savior Jesus.

We stayed in a historic hotel and even though it was too cold to visit the zoo the next day, 
we had a wonderful time with some great friends.


Amy's last month-Part two.

My husband and I took Amy to the ER around 8:00 Thursday morning, February 28. They took a chest x-ray, blood work, and started an IV. The ER doctor was very kind and actually talked to Amy. (Some doctors act like she can't hear, or understand, or that she isn't even there.) As she was having so much distress in her breathing, he wanted to put in a breathing tube, intubate her. He also wanted to transfer Amy to a bigger hospital that was better equipped to take care of her and the tube would be easier for her to travel.  He took us to another room to talk about it. The doctor assured us that this is done quite often and in a day or two the tube could be removed. But he also gave us no guaranties. Amy was quite frail (only about 65 lbs) but he knew how well she did last year with pneumonia, so he gave us a few minutes to make a decision. 
My husband and I had decided previously to not do anything like this to keep Amy alive. We felt that when the Lord called her home, it was her time to go. But it was not like in the movies. She wasn't in a coma, she was wide awake and in distress, pain and scared, because she couldn't breathe.We decided to let them intubate her.
I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of the end. 
Would we had made the same decision had we know there would be almost 5 weeks of time spent in the hospital? That Amy would have more procedures and more pain? That she wouldn't live through all this? Of course we wouldn't have. We would have taken her home right then and committed her life to God.  
But that was not what God wanted for her life or for ours. He wanted us to go through those five weeks. He wanted Amy to touch many, many lives in the hospital. He wanted her to share her story with others............... I will continue in the next post.

I have been studying Romans these past few weeks. These verses in Chapter 8 are very special to me.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
  28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Amy's last month of life- Part 1

I haven't felt like writing for quite a while.

Almost two weeks ago, my husband and I took a Sunday off and spent some time alone. We ended up doing some work at our mountain cabin we built on our land about 17 years ago. I was dreading seeing the inside as sometime over the summer, porcupines had chewed their way inside and set up camp  for awhile. I felt there had been enough destruction in our life lately and I didn't want to see more. Well, it was bad, but we worked on it, cleaned up what we could, and we know with a little more hard work we'll be able to fix it up again. We spent time talking about the future,  how our perspectives of life have changed. Our children grew up so fast and now..... one is no longer here. 
I have been feeling like just getting through with life, wanting to be in heaven with Amy and just going through the motions until God calls me home. Something happened that afternoon, though. It was like I finally realized that I could live for another 30 years or more! What was I going to do with the rest of my life? Where was God leading me next? I was just a little bit excited to think about the future. I felt more encouraged that day, even though there were tears, than I had for quite some time. 

So I have had more good days then bad days. 
But I can't live in a bubble of my own home. I have to get out once in awhile to shop and this time of year is very hard. I see Amy in everything I look at. The Christmas stuff is almost depressing. I have no desire to decorate and  I'm not doing very well on my shopping. 
We are having the family over for Thanksgiving,though. I will make a big turkey and the girls will help out by bringing some side dishes. We are using the dining room table. It will be hard....but I am determined to do it....and we will get through with God's grace. I'm sure there will be lots of tears, but my family is getting used to me crying all the time! 

Two days ago I finished using the last of Amy's perfume. She had mostly body sprays. I would use them on her very liberally and she would smell so good. Everyday for her month long stay in the hospital she was lotioned up and perfumed. The hospital let us use our own. Now all her perfumes are gone. I threw the last bottle in the trash and another piece of my heart went also. 
How many pieces of my heart can I lose until I have nothing left?

This week I saw an ambulance parked at McDonalds. Just sitting there, no siren, no flashing lights, no emergency. As I waited in the drive through lane it all came rushing back. That first ride in the ambulance eight months ago.  I decided I wasn't hungry and went to the cemetery and cried.

I need to tell those who don't know us about Amy's last month. I need to read the journal my daughter and I kept of our hospital stay and share what happened the last month of Amy's life. I feel a need to do this, but it will hurt. I have tried to block it out for so long now and maybe if I confront it, I can get over it. 
On  Tuesday, February 26, 2013, Amy came home from her day school and seemed tired. That wasn't unusual, she was tired a lot after school and I would always lay her down and let her nap if she wanted. She would listen to a story and most of the time fall asleep. That night she had a low fever before bed and I decided to keep her home from school the next day. I still wasn't too concerned. Wednesday she slept quite a lot, but ate well and I was debating if I should take her to the doctor or not. She still had a low grade fever Wednesday night but slept well. Thursday morning her fever was up and she was having trouble breathing. That was very unusual for Amy. She had pneumonia just once before and that was about almost a year to the day when she got sick this time. Last year we took her to the ER and they ran some tests and we took her home to recover. No hospital stay. No complications. 
Amy has always been healthy. If she would get sick, usually she wouldn't eat much and she would sleep a lot and get over it. Nothing in Amy's whole life or my life had prepared me for what was to come.........

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Seven Months-Part Two

Yesterday I planned to just get through the day.

I had a dentist appointment in the morning and so I thought I would journey out to do some shopping afterwards. I was able to get through the appointment without anyone mentioning Amy. That was a good thing, because I knew I would dissolve into tears if someone asked me how I was doing.
I spent a good deal of time in Hobby Lobby as I enjoy doing crafts and I love hearing the Christian music they play in the background. 
My shopping was going well. I was shopping for my youngest daughter's birthday. She will be 27! I was also shopping for items to go into the Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes. This is the first time our family has donated boxes and we each decided to do one, so I was looking for little items for 3 boxes. If you have never heard of it, click  Operation Christmas Child.
So my shopping day was going great until I was in Kohls. I was walking down the aisle and a lady with a older girl in a wheel chair came my way. We smiled at each other in passing and I glanced down at the girl, smiled and said hello. She just looked at me and said something I couldn't understand and then my tears started. 
I was able to control them until..... I saw it. A Christmas ornament display right in the middle of the aisle on the way to the children's clothes. The same display was there last year when we had our Christmas family shopping day. My husband and I bought Amy two ornaments that day, as we planned on saving one for this Christmas. 

Of course, we had no idea that Amy would not be here this Christmas to give it to. 

About four years ago, I started buying Amy an ornament each year. My oldest daughter had taken all her ornaments and my son had taken his, so I decided our tree could use a few more. Amy was so taken with the Disney fairies that we bought one of those for her each year. This year she would have gotten another one. 
There were a few ladies looking at the ornaments and I just stared at the cute Tinkerbell ones they had and then I had to touch them and the tears started again. I wanted to tell the ladies that I have a daughter and she is perfect and beautiful and I wanted to be able to buy her another ornament, but she is in heaven now. They just glanced at me, looked away, and quickly left. 
I couldn't control my tears this time and I just decided to make my purchases and leave. 
I had a good cry in the car and prayed for strength. 
It was late when I got home and I was exhausted. I showed my daughter what I purchased (except her presents) and then checked my email.
My oldest daughter (who doesn't share her feelings very often) posted this on facebook:
"A part of you has grown in me, together forever shall we be, never apart, maybe in distance, but not in heart."-Anonymous

I burst into tears again and couldn't stop crying. My youngest came in and hugged me and I asked her if she would sit on my lap. I held her and rocked her the way I would have Amy. We sobbed together.

I haven't held her like that for probably 20 years. I cried for all the years that are past, that can never be again. I cried for my adult children who are facing so much pain also and I can't make it better for them. I cried most because I will never hold Amy in my arms again. 

So the seven month anniversary passed and I did get through it. By God's grace, I got through it. 

Tomorrow we are to have a Harvest Banquet after the church service with turkey and all the fixings. Then we are having special music. 
I can't bring myself to go. I haven't been to a church meal without Amy. I just can't do it yet. 
So...... we plan on sleeping in and then spending some time getting our cabin ready for hunting season. We'll spend the time togetherjust my husband and I, but Amy will be with us in our hearts and we will worship God in the midst of His creation tomorrow. Maybe not the way some people think we should, but the way that seems best for us right now.
Amy loved going up to our cabin for cook outs. She loved riding the 15-20 minutes in the truck to get up there. Even the last couple of years, when it hurt her to sit without the support of her chair, (just my arms), she loved to go there. We kept a wheel chair in the cabin so she could be comfortable and she would enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of the woods.  
I will think about that tomorrow. I will try to just BE. To take in the smells, sounds, and really see the stillness. I'll try to praise God for all the things that Amy has taught us. And for the thirty-one years and one month that He gave her to us.

This was snapped on a cold day last week. The wind has taken a lot of the pretty leaves off the trees but the new grass is so green and some of the daffodils are coming up in front of the stone. But they will soon all be asleep under a layer of snow. 
How comforting to know that Amy is in the arms of Jesus and it is just her earthly shell that lays here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seven Months

Tomorrow will be seven months since Amy went to live in heaven.

My mom just sent me this email. She is 83 years young and always types in capital letters. She is amazing that she is able to understand her computer and be able to communicate with her daughters and her friends like she does. Here is what she said:


I love my mama so much for being able to tell me this. I have been feeling what she voiced lately, but yet I feel guilty for even thinking that Amy's death was a blessing.
For thirty-three years I have been a mother and that has been my occupation. I also added wife, homeschool mom of three, secretary for our home business, and of course cook, maid, and nurse to my occupation. But overall I was mother and caretaker of Amy. That's all I've know for that last thirty-one years. 

Now, my time is mostly my own. 

I've had knee surgery and have healed well from that. 

I'm still trying to heal from my heart surgery.  

I'm trying to lean on the Lord for wisdom in directing my life. 

I have not been involved in any church ministry for the last 7 months but God clearly told me about two months ago to tell our church about  Compassion International.
So three weeks ago I got up in front of the church and explained about our two children we sponsor and how others could sponsor a child also.
I felt good about doing this. I knew that God wanted me to do it and I knew that Amy would have been proud of her mom for sharing about the needy and poor. Because of her, I had the courage to share with others. And because of Amy 9 more children got sponsors and will not be suffering anymore from hunger or lack of education. Most important, these children and their families will hear the good news of Jesus. 
He is what makes all the difference in a person's life. In my life and in Amy's. Because of Him, I know I will see my precious daughter again and we will have eternity to share together. 
So tomorrow...... I will try to get through my day as I always do. I'm sure there will be tears and pain, but there will be hope also. Because of Jesus. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Missing Amy

Last weekend we visited my husband's sister. The last time we visited her Amy was with us. We had a good time, as we always do. I reminded Amy of what a good cook her aunt was. When we arrived she had soup and salad waiting for us. Not one of Amy's favorites! So we had a good laugh about that and then she redeemed herself by fixing Amy's favorites the rest of our time there. Before we left we stopped at the sewing shop where she works and Amy and her aunt got their picture together. 

October 2012

This time, there was no Amy with us. This time, was so different. We took a detour and stopped at a young friend's house. She and her husband just had a new baby, one month old on the day we visited. This was one of the friends of Amys that I talked about in Amy's friends. It was such a joy to hold a dear one month old little girl. I was close to tears many times, thinking of all of life that the new mommy has ahead of her with her sweet precious daughter.

We have visited my sister-in-law more frequently over the last ten years than we did before and I feel that Amy had a bond with her aunt. She was always up here for Christmas every year and there was a closeness between them. 

We also always went to church and so I knew many of the people there. One girl I have know since birth and I have enjoyed watching her grow through the years. She is a young lady of 17 now and I talked to her after the morning service and asked her if her mom had told her about Amy and she said yes. Then she asked if she could sit with us that evening. Of course I said yes. God knew I needed that comforting soul sitting next to me. Every time the preacher prayed she put her hand on mine and when we stood to sing the last hymn she put her arm around me. The solo that was sung that night was one I hadn't heard since Amy was little. It was by Ron Hamilton. I couldn't find it on You Tube, but here are the words.

Wings As Eagles

When the race still lies before me,
And the wind is blowing strong,
When the witnesses surround me,
And my strength is almost gone;
When the valley plunges deeper,
And life shatters all my dreams,
Then I lift my voice to Jesus,
And He gives my spirit wings.

God gives wings, God gives wings as eagles;
God gives wings to fly and strength to rise above.
God gives wings, God gives wings as eagles,
When my feet begin to stumble,
And my dreams begin to crumble,
I mount up on eagles’ wings.

Let us run the race with patience,
Let us lay each weight aside,
Looking only unto Jesus;
He will be our faithful Guide.
He has run the race before us;
He has won the victor’s crown.
And He calls to ev’ry Christian.
Follow me to higher ground.

This song touched my heart so much. I would have dissolved into tears right there, but I didn't want to upset the young lady sitting with us, so I was able to keep it in. It was the reminder that I needed.

 Isaiah 40:31
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles:
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not be faint.”

We got another picture this year, in front of the new quilt that Amy's aunt made. 

Missing Amy.

Always missing Amy.