Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Death Hovers Close this Week

Mary Autrey and my boysIt's been one of those weeks, well two weeks really, that Death has been a constant presence and in my mind.

It began with my mother-in-law softly slipping away at age 85. She had been suffering from dementia,
sometimes unable to remember where she was or even how old she was without a reminder. She had been a vibrant intelligent force to be reckoned with so slipping into dementia was difficult on my husband and his siblings. She's been in California for the last five years and when my husband saw her last a little over a year ago, he said he knew then it would be the final time he saw his mother.

Then on one of my writer loops we heard about how a fellow author's sixteen-year-old son was killed in a car accident on his way to school. My heart wrenches. I can't begin to imagine watching my child walk out the door and in what had to be less than fifteen minutes later, being gone. There aren't even any words for that kind of emotion.And fear. It's too sudden, it's just too sudden. And he's so young. I don't personally know this writer, but gosh, I sorrow and grieve with her.

The romance writing community is a tight compassionate group so a memorial fund has already been set up for their family's behalf. However it is already closed. I am inserting links to her books in case anyone would like to contribute in that way by simply buying one of her books. And since most child riders on life insurance policies top off at $10k yet the average burial costs are around $20k at the low end, believe me I know, extra book sales help. Jackie Barbosa on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Also this week I learned that my dear friend Steve "Peach" Wahlquist lost his wife to cancer.  I've actually never met her either, but knowing the kind of man Peach is and the way he speaks about her, she was someone amazing.

Yesterday we received word that the four-year-old daughter of a sweet family at our church was home from Cooks Childrens Medical Center with hospice care as her lungs are failing and will live only a few more days. I was assigned to be this mother's visiting teacher a couple of years ago. In our church, we're assigned to go visit each other and make sure everyone is taken care of, whether they need help help or just someone to talk to. It's a way of everybody taking care of each other. Anyway, she was assigned to me and my friend Laurie and I have to tell you I was scared the first time we went to her home. I knew she had a terminally ill child and after losing my own child I didn't think I was emotionally stable enough to be any kind of help to her. I imagined myself losing it and just blubbering and being zero help or strength for her at all. I've never prayed so hard before a visit in my life.

Miraculously I didn't break down. I'm not sure I was any help to her either any time we visited. Mostly we gave her a place to talk. I actually was kind of quiet, observing who she is and her strength in dealing with what she has to deal with in keeping her child alive, literally, on a daily basis. I remember being that way, having the strength and fortitude to just keep going even when you're beyond exhausted because there wasn't anything else to do. But from the other side of it, I also knew where this was going, how everything will change. Right now they are waiting for their precious girl to die. Cataloging every breath, the soft feel of her skin and hair, the way she smells as though they'll be able to hold onto those senses forever. Everything's surreal yet strikingly sharp and clear at the same time.

I'm not the same person I was before Chase's death. I'm not strong anymore, not like I had to be before. To be honest, it caught me off-guard how even the strength of my faith changed and the emotional ability to deal with the tiniest things is different. I don't know how my friend will be. I know everyone grieves differently, but I do know that she won't be the same as she is now.   It's hard thinking about what their family is going through today and not being able to do anything for them until afterwards. Our entire church community is waiting and grieving with them, feeling a bit helpless when we so badly want to help.

Kyle and Chase Autrey at the Dallas LDS Temple
And while death is so close this week, my thoughts were also turned toward my own children. In our faith, going to the temple and receiving instruction and sealing families together for all time and eternity is important to us. Before a young man or woman goes on a mission, they go to the temple for the first time and receive what we call an endowment, a gift from God so to speak. We also do these things by proxy for our dead. I'm not going to go into all of what that means to us here, but here's a link that shows pictures of inside our temples and a little bit more about it.

We waited until Kyle went to the temple to also go through for Chase on the same day. Again, I wasn't sure I was emotionally ready to handle it even after 3 years. If he had lived, Chase would be 18 and  ready to go on his own mission and go to the temple for himself. It's fitting that my boys went to the temple together, even if Chase was only there in spirit. My husband stood in as a proxy for Chase which was also right.

My heart sorrows today. All these deaths are so different. Some were old and suffering, some young and suffering, and Jackie's son so unexpected. If I've learned anything it is that grief and mourning and hurt and how someone deals with it, isn't something that can be compared or even judged with how it it dealt with. You simply hurt with the person going through it and comfort whoever stands in the most need of comfort at the moment you are there with them. That's all we can do really.


vk said...

beautifully said...

Jeanne Guzman said...

I needed this post. Thank you Clover.

Unknown said...

A beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your losses, and the losses of your friends. (((hugs)))

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