T AGE 58, my mother suddenly experienced heart
failure due to a diseased heart valve. I was her only child, and
we had remained very close through the years. As she lay dying in
the hospital intensive care unit, facing open-heart surgery, the
burden became overwhelming for me. After 48 hours, the numbness
over the trauma I was facing had begun to wear off and reality set
Later, as I slumped on the edge of my bed at home, I cried and held
my face in my hands. In between sobs, I begged aloud, “Not
my mother! Please, don’t take her yet!” Just then, by
my bedroom door, I heard
a calm, soothing voice say, “I will send you help.”
Immediately, I felt a warm, peaceful feeling flow over me, and I
glanced at the door to see who was speaking to me. I saw no one,
but I knew who had spoken. Only Jesus could have calmed the stormy
sea that I found myself sinking into. My tears stopped, and I smiled.
To my great relief, my mother came through the tricky surgery with
Twenty-one years later, Mom, once again, needed open-heart surgery.
This time, she wasn’t as strong, and she knew it. She chose
not to have any more medical intervention, and we opted for hospice
care at home. The next 27 days were a true test of my physical,
mental and spiritual fiber. Hospice staff took our hands and led
us through “the valley of the shadow of death.” The
words “I will send you help” took on a new meaning.
Through all the sleepless nights and frustrating days that followed,
I felt the presence of angels crowded around us in my mother’s
bedroom. They shored us up and dried our river of tears. As Mom’s
frail, thin body began to slowly slip away, her breathing became
labored. Oxygen helped her somewhat, but I knew her time was close
as her chin tilted upward and her chest stopped moving.
I sat grasping Mother’s hand tight enough for her to know
I was there, yet loose enough for her to feel her way on her journey.
As her tiny body grew cold and still, I kissed her gently and told
her goodbye. Our compassionate hospice nurse gently comforted me
and I folded Mom’s arms on her chest. As I did, I touched
her hand that I had been holding. Even though her body had grown
cold and still, that hand remained warm and soft. I knew then that
a higher power had her by that hand, and I smiled.
Sue Ducas Lowry
Family of CHRISTUS The Regis/St. Elizabeth Centers Patient