My phone rang early that Sunday morning, almost two years ago now, and the nurse said, “Your dad took a turn during the night. Can you come NOW?” I heard the urgency in her voice as I choked back panic and answered, “Yes.”
My husband and I rushed to get dressed and I called my three brothers to see if they’d heard. We all arrived about the same time. I was able to hold Dad’s hand and assure him we were there. He was unresponsive. Unmoving.
Until about 45 minutes later, when he seemed to rally to scratch his nose. He looked so normal for a few seconds, but he never opened his eyes and a few minutes later he was Home with Jesus.
I was so thankful we were all with him, and I was holding his hand. But somewhere in that morning the nurse told us that she felt bad, because Dad had told a nurse during the night that he didn’t want to be alone. But no one had called us. We hadn’t known.
And it haunts me when I think about it. My strong, loving daddy was dying that night and he must have known it and he hadn’t wanted to be alone. If we’d known we could have been there with him, when he was still talking. While he still might have taken some comfort from our presence. It breaks my heart.
I told an older, wiser friend of mine how heartbroken I felt about it. And she replied with quiet confidence, “He wasn’t alone. God was with him.”
And I bring this up now, because I know many of us are in a position, in these present times, where we are not allowed to visit our loved ones, because we might endanger them with the coronavirus.
My own 97 year old mother-in-law, Eunice, was moved to a nursing home right before Thanksgiving, this past year, after four and a half years of living with us in our home. She doesn’t know us at all anymore, and she seems content and well cared for at the residence.
Still, it was shocking when my daughter went to visit and found a sign on the door saying visitors weren’t allowed at this time. I’m taking a strange comfort now in the fact that Eunice doesn’t know us anymore and doesn’t miss our visits.
I’m even taking comfort in the knowledge that my own parents are safely with Jesus in these perilous times, and I don’t have to worry about them, even though I still miss them every day.
But my heart goes out to all who have loved ones they can’t visit. I remember how I loved sitting close to my own momma and feeling her head on my shoulder and her gentle pats on my arm as we sang songs and reminisced together. I treasured those moments and thrilled whenever she seemed to remember me, even for a second.
What a hard position to be in, to know our own affection and presence could bring illness and even death. But we can still do things to bless and help as we stay away. ..
We can cover our loved ones in prayer. We can pray for the nurses and staff. We can ask God to send His angels to watch over them all.
We can send cards, and photos, and flowers or candy, if we know they would be appreciated. And/or send them to the staff with grateful hearts and reassurances of our prayers.
Some people have relatives on the first floor of a building and are able to sit outside their window and visit on the phone. Some people could still enjoy a tape sent with greetings and music and updates on the family.
And no matter what, we can remember, that even when we can’t be there, God always is.
About a week before my momma passed away, she looked at my daughter and said, “God is here.”
Annie said, “Yes, He is.”
Momma replied, “He is bigger.”
And that has helped me so much over the years since she has passed on. God is here and He is bigger. He is bigger than Alzheimer’s. He is bigger than heart attacks, job loss, and cancer. God is bigger than COVID-19, and shortages in the stores, and social distancing, and sheltering in place.
God is bigger than our fears and anxiety. And He is here. He is with us.
“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)
Let’s take time, as many of us are required to be home, to seek the Lord, to pray, to pour out our hearts to Him. Let’s wait on Him and rest in Him and be strengthened by His grace.
And let’s take courage in knowing that God IS with us. And that He is watching over our loved ones. And that He is bigger than this all.