Tuesday, April 8, 2014

One year in heaven, April 8, 2014

Amy  has been in heaven, in the arms of Jesus, for one year now. 
I wonder what time is like in heaven. Has it seemed like just a few moments to her or does time even seem to exist there? 
I know it has seemed like a very, very long year for me. 
My life has changed so dramatically in just one year. Sometimes I feel like I have no purpose anymore and then other times I feel like I have the freedom to pursue things that I couldn't if I was still taking care of Amy.  I trust in God and lean on Him for His wisdom to tell me what the next thing is that I am to do with my life. But after a year, I still don't feel like I have direction. That is okay. I will still wait on His leading. Bill and I started working in the church nursery a few months ago.  We are in there once a month and I enjoy it immensely. Seeing how fast the babies grow a month at a time is amazing. One little boy that has given me such joy over the last year just moved up to childens church this past Sunday! 
I have signed up to help with a week of VBS this summer and I told our music leader to pray about me singing for worship again. That will be a big step, but I love music, as did Amy, and I love to worship God with music. 
Maybe that is all God wants me involved in right now. I don't know. 
The last few days have been extremely hard, remembering what was going on last year at this time. I didn't keep a journal, as I'm not one to journal, and the journal we did keep was just for each other to know of the drs. and nurses comings and goings and the record of how Amy was doing that day. So I only have my memories to remind me of what happened April 6-8 of last year. 
I know I have already blogged about some of the events of Amy's final days. I started to read through my posts again to see what I have already shared, but it became to painful and I could feel myself spiraling downward, so I stopped reading. 
I will just tell you what I remember the most and if it is repetitious, I apologize. 

So to continue....
Friday we were to bring Amy home to live out her final days. I only remember one person visiting that morning and it was a doctor who is a friend of the family, he is a specialist and wasn't on Amy's case. I tearfully asked him is it was right to withhold food and water and starve Amy to death. I'll never forget his words, because they bore into my heart. He asked me how much she weighed. (He was aware of her age.) And then he simply said, "You are starving her to death."  I know she was so terribly thin and only getting worse as the years went by, but she was so happy and not sick very much. But I realized what he was saying and I knew what we were doing was right. 
We decided to bring Amy home in our van, so she could sit up and see the beautiful early spring weather we were having. The grass was green, the birds were in abundance and the daffodils were blooming.... a beautiful vibrant yellow against the browns of winter and the fresh green of spring. I foolishly thought that we might take Amy to church Sunday or even out for a drive instead. She wouldn't need to be hooked up to her feeding tubes, and we had portable oxygen. I just knew how much she liked to go places. But I didn't realize how weak she would be. The doctor said it could be a few days or a week and so I set my heart on a week.
It was to be her last ride in her beloved van. 
Hospice was out. New people, more papers to sign. They took away all the "stuff" that had to do with her feedings. One less machine in Amy's room and the horrible reminder that she couldn't eat.  Some people stopped by that night who would often sing in Amy's classroom. They wanted some bushes or something to do with the nursery.  They had no idea about Amy.  So they came in and talked to her. It was the beginning of sharing my last days with Amy with other people. I have said before that I am not a people person. I would have been fine if it was just the family for Amy's last days.  But Amy was a people person. And she loved parties! 

Saturday we were able to get Amy cleaned up and ready before our first visitors came. Almost everyone came with a gift for Amy, flowers, balloons, cards, stuffed animals, a fairy garden, even a special bracelet. Amy was so happy. She didn't have much strength to smile, but I could see it in her eyes. That evening we had a family party for her. We had candles on a cake, even though she couldn't eat any, she loved candles! Amy never really liked cake anyway, but she loved the singing and the candles. We always did it for every family members birthday.  
We have not had candles or singing in the last year.
Another thing Amy loved was to watch movies. I had gotten her a special movie for her birthday and so after supper we started watching it, but I knew Amy was getting so tired, so we stopped it. We finished watching it the next evening. I will never watch that movie again.

Sunday. I knew going anywhere was out of the question as Amy was so tired. My girls even said that they didn't think it was wise because Amy looked so bad. I didn't think she looked ill, I just could see how tired she was. (I never realized how bad she looked until I saw pictures of her later.)   The family all stayed home from church and we had our own little service in Amy's room. We sang a lot of her favorite songs. James played the guitar. We read some Bible verses and just spent time together. We had visitors again Sunday afternoon. Some who stayed too long, but I didn't have the heart to tell them to leave. Amy had touched so many peoples lives and she enjoyed people, but I selfishly wanted the time she had left. 
I never had to worry about food. Friends had brought stuff in. My sister had come right away from about 5 hours away because I told her I needed her. She helped organize the food, get it out for people, answer the phone and mind the door. I will never be able to thank her enough. 
That evening Tess felt that Amy's time was going to be soon.  I couldn't see that. You would think as a mom, I would know. I don't think I wanted to see it. I wanted more time. I wanted another day or two. My daughters and I  took turns snuggling with Amy in bed while the others would try to sleep in the chairs in her room. I don't think she slept. We each sang softly to her. We talked some. We dozed. Bill came in early and sat beside her also.  Finally morning came.

Monday morning a dear friend of mine came and visited for a few minutes. Hospice came and confirmed that it wouldn't be much longer, maybe a day at the most. She also told me something that I will always remember. If a person dies with their eyes open, you cannot usually shut them, like they do in the movies. She also told me that her breaths would become slower, but her heart would beat faster. I'm sure she told me other stuff, but I don't remember.
Our Assistant Pastor came and sang for Amy one last time and just a little while after that while we were wahing Amy's hair, her lips started turning puple.  We got her back in bed and called for her Daddy and brother right away and we all gathered around her. I was in bed with Amy, holding her and Tess was on her left. Beethoven's Ninth was softly playing. We were praying, talking about heaven, and then were just quiet. Her Daddy kept saying, "It's ok, silly. (His pet name for her.) It's okay."    and her breaths became more shallow and farther apart. And finally no more......

Tess wanted to take her outside, to feel the sunshine. So she gathered her up in her arms and took her outside, among our flowers, the birds singing and the sunshine. 

Hospice was called. They had to come out and confirm death and be present when the undertaker came.  One of the girls was nice and quiet and the other couldn't stop talking. That was annoying.  They had to take all of Amy's prescription drugs, and we waited. Finally the undertaker came and he was so nice. He let me put Amy on the gurney and they took her body away. 

I wish I would have had more time with her, but yet I know she wasn't there. She did die with her eyes open and the whites of her eyes were turning grey. But she was still my baby. Why didn't I hold her longer? Feel the waning warmth of her skin? Why was I so ready to give her body to them? I just know that I wanted them all to leave, but that meant taking Amy with them............but it wasn't Amy anymore. She was already dancing with Jesus. 

Another email was sent out:
April 9
Many of you know already that Amy is now with Jesus. She died peacefully in my arms, yesterday around noon. The whole family was around her as she took her last few breaths. She opened her eyes and beheld her Lord and Savior and is now free of her earthly body. Her last few days were filled with smiles and laughter, many visits of those who loved her, singing and prayers.
We continue to ask for prayer as we go through all the necessary "things" that have to be done. We are planning her service for Saturday to "Celebrate her life", not to say goodbye, not to be solemn and sad (although there will be tears), but to be joyful and happy for her as the service will reflect many of the things Amy loved in this world. Pray for family as they travel in and for our peace as they leave and it is just "us" here in this big old house. Thank you for the many prayers that have already been prayed for us. God has kept us strong and sane and I know He will continue to do so.

Love, Cheryl and Bill

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