Sunday, July 24, 2011

There's one more angel in heaven...

...there's one more star in the sky...
          ~Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Adam's mom, Beth,
at our wedding in 2009
On Sunday morning, July 17, Adam and I went to church. I had made pasta salad to bring to a gathering at one of my old co-workers from Saint Bernard's house. We were going to swing by home, change into "cooler" clothes (since it was so blasted hot and humid), grab the pasta salad, and head out. But towards the end of mass, Adam got a phone call from his sister. During the recessional song, Adam walked out of church to check his voice mail from her. His mother had been battling cancer for a while, and we knew she wasn't in the greatest of shape. His sister had been keeping us informed and updated on messages from their dad. For some reason, call it a gut feeling or mother's intuition, I knew it wasn't a good phone call.

I stayed in church while the song finished, and chatted briefly with the two families that were sitting in front of us. (I knew one from Boy Scouts, and the other was the kids' cousins, whom lived down the street from us growing up, and I used to babysit). The mother from the Scout troop told me that Adam had a beautiful singing voice. I chuckled and said, "I know, sometimes I am ashamed to sing next to him!" They asked when the baby was due and congratulated us (again, I'm sure). Then I quickly looked for Adam and headed out of church.

He was already outside, and said that his sister, Jacque, had said that his mother, Beth, was back in the hospital (which we had already known), and wasn't looking good. Jacque said that they should all get to the hospital. I was fine heading out there with Adam to be with him and the family, but he insisted that I go to the picnic and have fun. So when we got home, we headed out in two different directions. Adam packed up my laptop in hopes that he would be able to work on his history final that was due on Monday. I told him, depending on how things were going there, I would come out later with food for dinner for all of them.

At the picnic, all of my old co-workers (many of whom had also been Adam's and my teachers in high school) asked where he was and how he was doing. I explained that his mom was battling cancer, and was in the hospital, not looking good. When I was getting ready to leave, I mentioned that I was going to head to the hospital, and bring them some food. Diane offered to pack up some food for us, so sent me with pasta salad and cherries for them.

I called mom on my way home, and she said she would pick me up, stop by Cub to grab some chicken from the deli, and bring me to the hospital. While we were there, Adam called to update me. He said that the nurse had come in and talked to them. She had said that she thought that Beth would pass on tonight. Remembering how long my grandma hung on for, I thought we might be there for a while longer than what the nurse had mentioned. I grabbed a couple more things from home for us, and we headed out.

Adam met me at the door and helped me carry up the food to the family waiting room. Then we went to Beth's room. Jacque was sitting on one side of her, holding her hand, while Mike, Adam's dad, was on the other. She was still relatively aware, but the drugs they had her on, made her process things a little slower.

Throughout the evening and into the night, we came and went from her room to the family waiting room. At one point, the Catholic priest came to give Beth the sacrament of anointing of the sick. While we were all gathered around, she looked at me and made a spinning motion with her finger. I turned to the side, so she could see my baby bump, and she gave a small nod. The priest gave her the sacrament, while we were all gathered around.

Just before midnight, some of us were in the family waiting room, when Jon came in and said that her heart rate was around 30, and we should all come. We all went down the hall, me walking slower than everyone else, waddling, trying to keep up. We all stood around her (minus me, I was sitting in a chair, not feeling well, just behind my husband), while she took her last few breaths. Jon, Adam's oldest brother, started praying and everyone joined him.

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. 

Other than tears, sniffles, and the passing of the tissue box, the room was quite. Soon her nurse, Amy, who was actually done with her shift, came in to let us know that they no longer had a heartbeat appearing on her screen anymore. She asked if we would like her to pray with us, and she said a short prayer, thanking God for the time we did have with her.

A couple people, started sharing memories of her, bring more tears, but also some laughs were choked out between the eye wiping. Slowly we trickled out of her room, and went into the waiting room again, where we waited for Mike, Adam's dad, to come in. We packed up our things, and when Mike came in made plans to gather the next day for breakfast to begin planning Beth's service.

Tired and exhausted, physically and emotionally, we all went home to try to get what sleep we could.

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