Wednesday, May 1, 2013

when life is hard, God is there ~ saying goodbye

If I ever had doubts of God's presence in my life, they were squashed by this experience...
God was in every detail.  Although death is never easy, I found such great comfort in God during this difficult time.  
Less than 48 hours after we returned from Mexico, I got a phone call that my grandmother had suffered a massive stroke.  My parents had been with her the previous week (because it was my mom's spring break and we were in Cabo, my parents made the trip to Boise).  My grandmother, who would have been 94 in May still lived alone but had started to have some health concerns.  Thankfully my parents were there and were able to get the proper care and also got in contact with my aunt who flew up that weekend and got my grandmother settled into a respite care facility while she healed and recovered from two surgeries.
Kyle just happened to be in Boise that week for a regional work meeting (he had just been there a few weeks earlier, so if not for the meeting, he would not have had reason to return so soon).  He was able to visit her Monday afternoon, before her stroke.  Bless his heart, as soon as I called him with the news, he drove to the nearest hospital and found my grandmother.  He stayed with her for hours that evening, talking with doctors, holding her hand and communicating with me and my family.

I was going back and forth as to whether I should try to fly over to Boise...I waited until my dad had arrived Tuesday morning to get an update and then decided that I should definitely make the trip.  My grandmother had very specific instructions and did not want any extraordinary measures taken to prolong her life.  
Within an hour, I had booked my ticket, packed my bag, made six phone calls to arrange transportation and care for the kids and was on my way to the airport.  I am so grateful for my sweet friends who dropped what they were doing to help me and for my mother in law who drove over and stayed with the kids for the night.
I immediately went to the hospital and sat at my grandmother's bedside, so thankful that I had come.  Death is so hard, seeing someone suffer is harder.  My grandmother looked so frail and I'm not certain that she even knew I was there.  But I stayed, sat there while crying and prayed.  That side of my family isn't the most emotional, and I felt self conscience as I cried....I'm a crier and even though I was not extremely close to my grandmother, it was so hard to see her like that.  I felt lonely and just asked God to be there with us, for us.
A few minutes later, a very sweet, kind nurses assistant came in to care for my grandmother.  She was informative and loving and showed me how to work everything, what buttons to push if I needed help, etc.  She showed me how to open the electronically controlled curtains...and as she adjusted them, I saw in the distance, on top of a barren hillside, I white cross.  And I literally felt God's presence.  It was amazing.  
Here is a picture of the cross for my grandmother's room.  It's just a cell phone picture so the quality is poor, but you can see it way up on the top of that hill.  Had her room been anywhere else - on a lower floor, on another side of the hospital or facing a different angle - I wouldn't have seen this cross.  
I didn't feel alone anymore.

Saying goodbye
In the twenty four hours that I was there, I just did a lot of sitting and praying, holding her hand and rubbing her arm.  I believe in my heart that she knew I was there....she did open her eye at one point and I was able to tell her that I was there.
My grandmother lived a good, full life and I take comfort in knowing that she was probably ready to go.  She would have hated being immobile or dependent on others.  
She was a mover and shaker, she was sharp, she was intelligent and involved in many organizations, she lived a long life and is now in a better place.
Mary Louise Bowl Rathbun 

(another poor quality cell phone picture)
This was the site that welcomed me home as I stepped outside at the airport.  
Just another reminder that God was with me.
I felt at peace and prayed that my grandmother was now free to rest in peace.


  1. The picture of your two hands together just brings tears to my eyes. I'm so glad that you made the trip and am thankful for your signs of hope and God's presence during that time. Such sweet blessings.

  2. I'm glad you had the clarity of mind to take those pictures (cross, hands, rainbow) - they are powerful! Such a good reminder that God really does care about the details of our life and He is actively making himself known to us when we need it most.