By Debra Whittington
“A time to be born, and a time to die”…Ecclesiastes 3:2
The journey…like a roller coaster took us up and down and all around. It started slow and I thought I could handle it on my own. Soon there were decisions to make with little hope and yet we were going to try anything.
Driving in the middle of the night facing the bright lights ahead. What would we face once we arrived, would the doctors be able to help? Sitting in a hospital room, bombarded by hundreds of questions and responding automatically. How was I able to remember all of those dates and operations and medical conditions I once knew nothing about but now recited like a computer?
The doctor sits us down and shows us pictures on a screen while he relates what is going on. There is no choice but surgery that has to happen within the next 15 minutes or the operating room won’t be available. Time is crucial and the seconds are ticking away.
I watch as she weakly signs the consent forms and is wheeled down the hall toward the elevators. This is my mother we are talking about and as I kiss her and tell her goodbye I try not to think about what is about to happen. We are led to an empty surgery waiting room and we wait. The hours pass slowly as we watch the clock and wait. They told us it would be 4-5 hours, it takes 6.
At midnight the doctor emerges and tells us the surgery is over. He did his best, and now all we can do is wait and see. We are led to ICU to see her for just a moment. She is on a ventilator and attached to all sorts of tubes. Her hand is cold and she is so still. She looks so tiny and frail hooked up to all of those machines. Go home and wait we are told as we leave the unit.
A week in ICU, the ventilator is removed and I can talk to her for the first time. Her voice is raspy but sounds beautiful to me and those words “I love you” are music to my ears. There is hope in that sweet voice I hear.
Back upstairs to the surgical floor we go in hoping she will recover from her ordeal. The days of trying to control her pain creep along as we make the drive back and forth each day praying for a good outcome. We sit by her bedside watching her deal with agonizing pain and begging the nurse for another shot so she can rest.
The phone rings at 2 a.m. It is the doctor on the other end telling us there is a problem and we need to hurry back to the hospital. We arrive only to learn no more can be done for her, she can’t take any more surgery.
She is transferred to a hospice inpatient unit and they manage to finally get her pain under control. Christian doctors, nurses and staff are so kind. I feel as though I am wrapped in a cocoon of prayer. This feeling isn’t what I expected of a place like this.
Day after day passes. It is Easter morning. As we prepare to return to her bedside I spot a rainbow in the sky. What promise does it hold? We arrive at her bedside and I take her hand. I tell her how much I love her. I assure her she has fought a good fight and it is time to go to Jesus.
She is in heaven tonight. My heart is heavy, but I know she is no longer suffering and is in the presence of her Lord. The words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 come to mind, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith”. My Mom’s journey on this earth is over and I look ahead to the day when I will see her again.
Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at: