Valley of the Shadow of Death
Our family had been in Guadalajara only a few months and my mother became ill. She went into the hospital with pneumonia. Apparently she had been given many different prescriptions in California by her doctor (he spoke with thick German accent which she couldn’t understand) so that by the time her condition worsened after the stress of moving to another country, they couldn’t find a medicine that would cure her easily.
They persisted and indeed she recovered from it, came home and took a turn for the worst. In hindsight, she had Alzheimer’s disease, and this final illness kicked it up a notch. She had to be put onto oxygen, lost the strength in her legs and needed help getting to the bathroom. Even putting up her Christmas tree and favorite orange and purple ornaments on it didn’t raise her spirits. The ladies from church came to visit several times a week, but all she could say was that she didn’t want them there. Her personality changed from a gregarious Relief Society Secretary to an angry, contentious old woman.
I had to scold her occasionally when she spoke roughly to Brianna, whom she loved. The medical system in Guadalajara was fantastic however. Dr. Menesis, a member of our ward, came to the house frequently. Imagine, house visits from a world famous doctor (He specialized in Bach Flores and had an office in Switzerland) and oxygen and supplies delivered to the home. Her mind became confused and she began repeating words over and over again. I asked her if she could stop doing that and she said no. Within three days of this symptom, she died on 15 Dec 1995. She was never convinced that she didn’t have pneumonia anymore, but she died from something else entirely.
Bob’s Journey in the
Valley of the Shadow of Death
The reason I’ve told the story about my mother’s death in Guadalajara is because when the #52Ancestors prompt was Misfortune, I couldn’t think of anything. I’d always thought of myself as Fortunate. However, after thinking about it I wrote quite a long story about my husband’s death on 9 May 2012 at the age of 82. It’s been almost six years ago.
If you go back through my blog you will see that I stopped writing soon after this date and had good intentions but never really became consistent again until now. Thanks Amy Johnson Crow.
At Bob’s death I kept a detailed journal so that I could remember to thank all of the people who came to comfort us during his last days. Indeed I thought that I would blog about my journey through the valley of the shadow of death. But, I wrote, “I thought I’d be able to write about grief and how I handle my beloved’s death, but quite frankly it’s just so subtle and too personal.” I did write daily in my journal and have two full notebooks for 2012. However, I just couldn’t keep up this blog.
In rereading these journal pages, I found a wonderful story of funny moments, tender caring moments, weird bizarre moments, and surprising sacred moments that led to a revelation or two when Bob died.
Just as friends and family gave comfort, advice and service, shared great food, so did the new friends we’d made in Guadalajara when my mom became bedridden. Our American Legion friends and ward member friends came to serve. At least in Guadalajara it is a law that the body cannot be moved for 24 hours. This gave time for the Relief Society Presidency to clean and dress my mother in her white temple clothing and for us to cuddle and cry and say our goodbyes.
So when Bob died in Arizona, Brianna and I took an hour or so to say our goodbyes before we called the people at the hospice company we used and they sent a nurse over to listen to his heart for a minute and declare him dead at 2:15 am, even though he actually died at 12:34am. Brianna was pregnant at this time and she needed to use the bathroom. Bob’s breathing had gotten more shallow and longer between little pauses and deep breaths, so when she left the room, I said to him, “Bob, Don’t die before she gets back!” And he didn’t. Two minutes after she returned, and was sitting at his head, and I at his feet, he took his last breath.
Brianna stood up and looked at me and said, “I thought I’d be crying, but I’m happy instead.” We both felt lifted up. The Holy Ghost, the comforter was at work in our lives. Yes as the months went on, I noticed that the handwriting in my journal began very scratchy, confused and rambling, but finally became more coherent and I began setting short term goals again. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal perspective it provides. I know where our spirits came from, and where it goes after we die. And one day, we will all rise again and unite with our bodies because of Jesus and his great work.
Next week is Easter and this post is appropriate for the week before and all of the stories that go along with His last days upon the earth and the gift He has given to us.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will
fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”