As I was lying in bed early Friday morning, June 12, I prayed my usual prayer that Jesus would give me strength for the day and allow me to be the conduit of His grace and mercy throughout the day ahead. No one could have prepared me for the next four days, and yet I moved through this emotion-wrenching time as though I had been preparing my entire life.
You can never be prepared to see the dearest person in your life begin their journey to their forever home, and yet, you can look outside your emotional state and realize you are much stronger than you ever imagined. In my knower, I know that the death of my dad on April 24, 1997 began preparing me to lose my soulmate of fifty two years, three months, and six days. I had feared the death of my loved ones since I was a little girl of seven who watched the funeral home staff carry my baby brother of two into my home in his little casket and leave him there for two days as we prepared for his funeral. A spirit of fear gripped my heart and spirit and held on for dear life until I was present in my dad’s hospital room with my hubby as my dad allowed his spirit to leave that carnal surroundings, walk through the spiritual door and begin his new life without sickness and pain.
I knew then that I too would allow those that I love the dearest to begin their journey whenever their time was up. You see, I so believe that, when we are in our mother’s womb, God orders our steps through life. One day I was praying and asked the Lord to guide me through that day. I immediately saw myself walking through a beautiful garden. There were stones laid out on a path; however, I was walking everywhere but on that stone path. Jesus spoke to me to pay attention to where I was walking. He let me know that He had laid out that path for a purpose, for me to walk in that direction. I then became intentional about my daily life. I will not begin my day without asking His direction.
So, here I am today. On Thursday, before Henry had a massive seizure on Friday, the 12th, Kimberly, my daughter, and I were preparing him for bed. I was always telling him that I loved him and then I would kiss him but, on Thursday evening, Henry looked up at me and gave me a big kiss. No one could have known that was my last kiss from the love of my life. The next morning, I was assisting Nancy, Henry’s nurse, and Tamika, the CNA, to bathe and change Henry for the day. Nancy walked around the side of his hospital bed and immediately sprang into action. She could tell by his eyes that he was having a storm in his brain, a massive seizure. His eyes were dancing and jerking unlike anything I have ever seen. This episode began a regime of morphine and Ativan to keep him calm. We were then given a prognosis of maybe eight days. Our journey of watching and waiting had begun in our bedroom of the home that he loved so dearly.
When we started the Dementia journey five years ago, we knew, if possible, we would keep this strong man of faith at home. Even two weeks ago, as we would move him from bed to recliner and then back to the bed at night, he looked me in the eyes and said, “You love me, don’t you?” I knew that he eventually could forget who I was to him, but I wanted him to know that the lady that was caring for him really loved him. I wanted him to always feel secure in his distorted world of Dementia.
Watching my family, Rob, Melissa and Kimberly plus our grandsons, keep vigil for the next four days was seeing love in action. The nurses kept instructing us to leave the room so he could pass in peace. We knew the man, the myth and the legend, Henry Jones. He always wanted his family around him. We have the greatest memories on Disney cruises, Hawaii and Cancun vacations. In fact, Henry and I went on a cruise with our spiritual father, Bishop Bill Hamon, and the other Board of Governors for the Christian International Ministries just three years ago. I knew it could be challenging because I had to keep my eye on the man every minute. He could wander off and not know how to get back to me. Yet it was a week full of great memories and relationship building.
On Tuesday evening, the 16th, we had kept the vigil going so, about 9:50 pm, Rob and Melissa were going home to shower and rest. I received a phone call as they were leaving from Bishop Hamon encouraging me that I would be able to make it even if God determined it was time for Henry to go. He then began praying for a peaceful passage into Heaven for my love. Kimberly was spending the night because the family felt that he would be with us a little longer. Henry’s hospital bed was beside my side of the bed, so I leaned down to kiss him before I lay down when I realized that he was leaving us. We immediately sprang into action, calling the family back and then the nurse.
We will always be thankful that the Lord gave us this private time with the man who had been bigger than life. He always said he wanted to live and not just exist. He was able to walk this out until his last days. Our family began singing over him as he was being ushered into Heaven. We were thanking God for the opportunity to serve him and walk with him throughout this life. I’m sure our singing could never have matched the voices of angels as they were welcoming him home, but his leaving was exactly what he would have ordered. Praising and worshipping over his life and sending him off with all the love that we could show!
People now cannot understand how we are not walking in brokenness as emotions rule. I even told my kids on Wednesday that I was either in shock or peace. Of course, I knew it was the peace that Paul was writing about in Philippians 4:7 when he said, “May the peace that surpasses your understanding guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Hear me today! There is a peace that you cannot understand that will keep you through the biggest challenges you could ever experience. You do not realize He will give you this kind of peace until you need it. Stand strong! God’s got you!