Friday, July 5, 2013

Doug's last 2 days

This has been lost in my "drafts" for a long time. As 2017 begins, it again reminds me of my amazing husband and the precious faith we shared. 

On Saturday morning in Seattle, Kathy, Sam and I had left for the afternoon at 1:30 pm. We returned about 4 hours later to several messages, the last one telling us that we were to call Eagle Ridge Hospital immediately. The call had come  at 1:36 pm. We made the call and were told that Doug had collapsed at the manor that morning, been transferred to Eagle Ridge Hospital and then been taken to Burnaby General Hospital. We were told that he was seriously ill.
The 3 of us arrived at BG at about 8:30 pm on Saturday evening. Sam was picked up by K's friend Kerry and Kathy and I went in to find Doug on oxygen and multiple intravenous lines. His blood pressure had crashed. Not long after they had to intubate him as well. His condition would not allow him to be moved for tests but they suspected an issue with the liver, pancreas, or an abdominal stroke.
When we returned early the next morning, we were told they had almost lost him in the night. He was now on maximum life support. Finally, late Sunday morning, they managed a CT SCAN which suggested an ischemic bowel.  Doug amazed the doctors because he was fully conscious despite his condition and the extreme medication levels. Carolyn our oldest daughter had arrived by then as well. She and her family had also been away that weekend to their Church family retreat near Princeton. The 3 of us started to sing hymns and Doug mouthed the words along with us. I'd ask him if that was a good one and he'd nod and smile. He tried to tell us something, but because of all the medical apparati, there was so much that we couldn't catch. We tried to spell the words out but that did little to help. 
And so it was for about 2 hours when finally the surgeon and anaesthesiologist called us in for a conference. Their message to us was that the untreated condition was fatal. They also told us that intervention in the form of an immediate high-risk, invasive operation would also likely be fatal. Doug was too weak. He could say goodbye now or likely die in an operating room. Together, prayerfully and of one mind, we made our decision. We were prepared to say goodbye, and Doug would be released from medical support.
Not long after, we reentered his room, and Doug was resting comfortably without the wires and machines. Again we sang. It was hard for him to talk, but he still mouthed the words of these songs he knew so well. He told me that he loved me. He told each of the girls he loved them. He beamed to hear that Carolyn 's news that Ellie had asked Jesus into her heart a few days earlier.He gestured for the girls to come closer at one point. His final words to them, so Doug-like, were "take care of your mother". It made me weep.
And so together we sang, and cried, and talked, in that private room with the door wide open. So many of the old hymns became so precious with each stanza - Great is thy Faithfulness, Have Thine Own Way, When We all Get To Heaven, Like A River Glorious, Because He Lives, and more.  I suggested we sing “Beyond The Sunset” , an old hymn often played as a violin duet by my own mom and dad. Up to this point, the girls had been using Carolyn's Iphone to coach them on the words in the later verses of many of the hymns, but for this song they weren't even sure of the tune. So we played a You-Tube version as lead. On the 2nd verse Doug stopped “singing” and stared upward. Then he just stopped breathing. That was the end, before the song was done, and as we heard the words  - "When, with our Saviour, heaven is begun, Earth's toiling ended. O, blessed reunion! Beyond the Sunset, when day is done.""

It was an amazing passage – quiet, gentle and surrounded by the presence of God. It had been 16 years of struggle. There had been many questions. But we had seen God at work through the pain. We serve a God who is bigger than our plans and our understanding. 

That day, together Carolyn, Kathy and I embraced in a quiet hospital room as Jesus welcomed Doug into the perfection of his forever home.

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