Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I See Angels

We got a call yesterday from the Nursing Home that Mom K was "transitioning." This is jargon for moving from life into death. Her fingers were blue, blood pressure dropping, hunger and thirst nearly absent. They encouraged us to come as soon as possible. So Arvo and I headed over to the Nursing Home, figuring we were about to say "Goodbye".

Shortly after we arrived, two hospice nurses showed up. Then an aide brought in a pitcher of juice and several cups. Then the Nurse Manager came in. Mom K slept through the party, but we non-transitioning folks talked for quite some time. The nurses all shared stories of similar experiences witnessing people as they passed from this life. They all told of the aged persons' faces suddenly lighting up, arms outstretched, and words pouring out of them like, "Glory! I see Glory!" and "Angels!" and "Beautiful! I see Him!"
"If you didn't have faith, those experiences would sure convince you," they all said.
"It is not frightening?" I asked.
"No," they all said, "Not at all. It is amazing."
"You feel very strongly the presence of the Holy Spirit," said the Hospice Nurse.

Arvo and I had both said as we were driving over that we don't know how people without faith get through the hardness of end of life. Having Arvo's brother die suddenly just two weeks ago, and now Mom K's imminent death, we were both a little shell-shocked. But at least, we truly believe that our loved ones are going to a better place, and that one day, we will see them again. How unendurable not to have that comfort.

Slowly, the nurses drifted away, then Arvo went off to call his remaining brother, and I was left alone with the sleeping Mom K. She chose that moment to wake up.
"Hello," I said, "How are you feeling?"
She could not answer, but she moaned a bit, and so I read her some more from the book of John in the Bible.
"I want you to know, you have been a good mother in law," I told her, "And I love you."
She looked at me, and didn't speak, but her brow furrowed as if she wanted to. I would have liked to have thought of more to say, in case this was the last time she heard me on earth, but I couldn't think of another thing. When she moaned as though in pain again, I hurried to find a nurse to give her more pain medication.

While waiting for Arvo to return, I read to her from the Bible for a half hour. I had turned to John 14, which certainly was the perfect chapter in this situation. The pain meds slowly took hold, and she grew less agitated. I have always believed that people that don't seem to be fully conscious understand and hear more than we think, though they may not always be able to respond. I remembered reading the Bible for a half hour to my seemingly comatose friend, Comer, before he died, and suddenly he groaned out, "Amen!" So I read John 14 with as much feeling as I could muster, that those words of ultimate comfort would nestle deep in her soul, and ease the "transition".

By the time we left, she was sleeping, and still clinging to life. We know it is not likely she will be on this side of Heaven much longer. It was not easy to be there but I am glad I went. Doing the right thing is often a hard thing, but I was glad to hear about the Hospice nurses watching their dying patients suddenly reach out above them with rapturous faces, crying out, "Angels! I see Angels!"

John 14:1-6 NIV
[1] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. [2] My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? [3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. [4] You know the way to the place where I am going.” [5] Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” [6] Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

-save a dog-


  1. Wow, your post is what I needed to read this morning. Even though it is about death, your writing was very comforting to me because right before I opened this up to read it, I got an email asking for my parent's new phone number because my uncle (my daddy's brother) just passed away. So, how appropriate to read this blog and be comforted by your words. The Lord uses you to touch people's lives every day. I know it is sometimes difficult to write and draw everyday, but it is a ministry and I am one of the ones you bless! Thank you for being obedient, even when it is hard. I will pray for you, your husband, and your family in these next few days with your mother-in-law.

    1. Melanie, I am sorry for the death of your uncle, but encouraged that my blog gave you some comfort. Thank you for your sweet affirmation.

  2. Vicky, Thanks for your blog today. I lost a close friend a week ago, and even though she's now in heaven, it has been difficult. Jesus' promise of a home in heaven for those who believe offers comfort. I'll be praying for you all.

    1. Nancy, Sorry to hear about your friend. Death is very hard on those of us left behind, but the nurses' conviction that the dying patients who loved God were truly entering His presence is a very comforting thought!

  3. Being present for my father's death was such a gift, a privilege and a blessing. Prayers to you all. Love Sue