January 9, 2019
At home… Pain filled days…
It has been a particularly difficult last four days. Again they are blurring together as one long nightmare with bits and pieces of sunshine breaking through. The pain that Glen is experiencing because of the bowel obstruction is beyond measure – though when we do measure it at its worst it rings in at a 10 out of 10. Sunday night was particularly painful in many ways. I woke up with a terrifying nightmare of a demon standing in our bedroom and screamed so loud and long that Glen was surprised the police didn’t show up. Then I couldn’t stop crying. When one has the active imagination that I do and is in a sleep state everything is very real and getting control of one’s emotions, especially when your loved one seems to be dying right before your eyes no matter what you do, is crazy difficult. I was crying because Glen is the human who makes me strong. Glen is the one who for all our married years has calmed me when me dreams get out of control. Glen is the person who is always there for me, who understands me extremely well (not perfectly but close!). Glen literally has caught me mid-air in the past when my dreams are especially out of control as I bounce out of bed in the wee hours of the morning from some sort of strange dream. Glen is the one who holds me when the world is spinning. Glen is the one who I have fun with, dream the most with, stand with and for. Glen is my man. Glen is my soul-mate and we were perfectly matched to be put together by God’s design. Glen is the one who held me while I wept over my mother’s death, my Dad re-marrying someone I didn’t know within three months of dating her (he knew her from his younger years – we didn’t of course but we do now and it’s all good). Glen is the one who brings stability – yet now I am the one. I am the one who has to make sure he takes his meds. I am the one who is responsible for many decisions. I am the one who over the years of relying on Glen know little about the operation of car maintenance, or how to change the house water filter…I sprained my wrist this past week trying that one. The reality is that I’m just not physically strong enough to do some of these tasks even if I knew how. My friend commented that most men like the helpless female. That’s all good and fine except for two things – I hate being a “helpless female” on things I know very little to nothing about and don’t have the strength for, and when one is in that position and her man is more helpless than her it sucks. So that night when I was still not fully awake I was terrified of losing Glen, my “one.” Glen couldn’t even get out of bed to comfort me. All he could do was try to muster up a weak voice to calm me down. I did calm down, prayed and asked for more angels and protection around us. I hopped into Glen’s hospital bed with him for a bit so he could hold me… Then two hours later Glen was awake and in pain so I got up and gave him a dose of the hydromorphone. Another two hours later (by this time 6AM) he was in massive pain measuring in at 10/10. I gave him another dose of hydromorphone and changed his fentanyl patch early. I didn’t know what else to do… I gave him NAET treatments and held his hand for an hour until he fell into a restless sleep.
By 8AM I had to wake up to give Glen the octreotide injection. He looked stable so I headed to the barn for chores and back home again to see five clients that day. At some point I had to return to work and it’s very difficult to decide when is a “good” time. Right now there is no good time. I am conflicted because of course Glen is priority yet I also know people are coming for counselling for a reason – they need the help. Fortunately Val and Jocelyn, my contract counsellor’s who work for me, were able to help out. The day went fine in spite of the lack of sleep. God must have carried me – in fact I’m quite sure that He did!
Brian has been coming to give him natural bioenergetics treatments and Linda has been working on Glen from afar. I don’t completely understand all of that except that it is quantum physics and is quite helpful. Both are also strong God-fearing people whom I respect and trust because we wouldn’t let just anyone into that personal space.
Today has been another very difficult day. Two of my clients cancelled, which though sad for them ended up being a God-send. I saw a person at 10am, then when I came upstairs Glen was again in terrible pain. The mistake I made was suggesting that he try eating an egg on his sourdough toast. The obstruction is too bad and he couldn’t handle it so the pain has been excruciating all day long. I spent time on the phone with the home health care nurse, the pharmacist (I doubled the fentanyl patch because the doctor had doubled the strength) and gave him extra hydromorphone; Brian came for the scheduled appointment to treat Glen and still he is in excruciating pain. I saw another client at 3pm while Brian was still here with Glen and then Donovan took over sitting on our bed watching Glen. I can’t imagine what Donovan is going through with seeing his strong Dad go through all this pain, confusion and weakness. When I walked in from my counselling session I needed to give Glen his octreotide injection, more pain killers and the enzymes that he’s supposed to be taking in high doses to eat the cancer. Glen was so loaded up with pain and pain killer that he asked me three times what I was doing and why I was interrupting his rest. Poor Donovan just sat on the bed observing. No tears except the silent ones. Last night we got the chi machine for Glen and Donovan and I had to help Glen lie on the floor, and then we literally had to get him up by lifting him together because Glen couldn’t get off the floor. To see your Dad in such a state of weakness has got to be traumatic and I can only hope that he is talking to others more than he is to me. I know that he doesn’t want to trouble me more. I know he sees my tears as I sat on the floor with Glen because they were streaming down my face. Glen didn’t see those one’s because his eyes were closed and that’s ok. He was actually joking around about how silly weak he is… Silent tears are ok because we need to let out the sad emotions. We would not be human if this didn’t make us beyond sad.
Glen is a good man. Glen is a man of greatness. Glen is called by God to do more than he has already done. Glen is learning to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and is becoming more intimate with the Trinity. Relationship is what it’s all about. God is not religious. Man is. God is about relationship. That’s why He created us to begin with – because He wants relationship with us. God is enthralled with us! Just read the Song of Solomon – God is literally quite taken with us! Crazy, but true. Glen is learning even more to be a little crazy too – about God. Learning to let go of human logic and reasoning in order to embrace the crazy and “reckless love” of our Lord and Savior (this is a good love by the way lest anyone take offense of that term!) It’s just hard when pain is taking all your energy and you can’t eat. Really hard.
So again, we are trusting. We are trying to shove enzymes down Glen’s throat so that they can act like little diggers from the inside clearing away the cancer that obstructs everything – obstructs life. We are trusting the treatments that Glen is receiving. And most of all we are trusting in God to heal Glen and restore him to even stronger and more purposeful than he was before. So in the midst of this hurricane gale of a storm against us, in the midst of the spiritual battle, in the midst of the physical battle, we raise our voices to praise God. No matter what we feel we will praise and give God the glory. This story is not over just yet. And no matter how this particular chapter ends we choose to trust God and give Him glory.
An hour after writing this in the presence of Glen while he rested he then woke up. I read it to him and I’m not sure how much he heard. He nodded and gave me a little smile. He then said, “Honey, I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m not sure I can keep fighting. The pain is intense.”
Linda had been messaging me that I needed to let him go. My heart sunk when Glen said those words. My mind screamed and endless “NO!” I looked at my now literally skeleton man. His full lips were gone not even able to wrap around his teeth. His head looked like a literal skull. He was at the most 130 pounds if not less than that. He was tough but who could endure like that? Brian and I helped him to the bathroom so yes, he’s still mobile but the cost is huge. He didn’t have the energy to wipe or walk back so Brian and I helped him back to bed – and he was able to walk back with help. He must be incredibly stubborn. The tears started streaming down my face. I knew I had to release my beloved into the arms of God but oh my God!!! Why?! How?! God save him…
“Mon Cherie… with all my heart I want you to keep on fighting…” I stammered out between tears… the rest was much more difficult to say and it came out as a whimper and a whisper… “But I understand.”
I climbed into the little hospital bed with my beloved man. My partner in life and in literally everything. I hugged him as best I could trying not to hurt him. He was in so much pain.
“I think it’s time for palliative,” Glen managed.
“Ok,” I responded and grabbed my phone and hopped back into bed with him. I called the nurses and left a message because they never actually answer.
By this time Glen’s breathing was in short breaths.
“I love you Glen. Always and forever,” I said gazing into his pained but beautifully deep blue depths of his eyes.
“I love you Laurel,” Glen responded looking deeply into my eyes. “Always and forever. To eternity and beyond.” He looked deep into my eyes and held my hands tight. “There really are no other words.”
I burst into tears and hugged him. We lay like that as long as we could but his pain was too great. His breaths were coming in short gasps. I called Linda to see if she had any advice. I knew that he was beyond fragile and would not be able to handle going in ambulance to emergency. He would surely be ok until I got him into palliative care, wouldn’t he?
As I was sitting on his bed talking to Linda, holding his hand, he looked up into the corner of the room. I gasped and ended my conversation with Linda. I waved my hand in front of his eyes but they didn’t move. His breaths were coming less and less frequently. I full on panicked… I screamed his name over and over. I shook my Glen and pounded on his chest to bring him back. I screamed over and over, “Don’t leave me!” through a flood of tears that would not end. I screamed to God to save him. I dialed 911 within thirty seconds and they instructed me, still flooding tears, in CPR. I continued CPR for 10-15 minutes until the ambulance attendants pulled me off my beloved… “Sweetie…let us take over…” and they tried to lead me into the living room to sit down. I just kept popping up out of the chair they were trying so hard to put me in…
“What do you want us to do?” was the question…
“Save him!” I managed.
“We are already starting and trying. Does he have a DNR?”
“No…they talked about it at the hospital but didn’t give us anything to sign…”
“So nothing in place?”
“No,” I sobbed, “he just didn’t want his ribs broken…” I managed.
I wandered back into the bedroom unable to keep myself from seeing my Glen. He had tubes and such and they were charging the machine to shock him.
The attendant led me out again.
“When did I call 911?” I asked through the tears that would not stop.
“6:45pm,” came the answer.
“What time is it?” I asked not wanting to hear the answer.
“7:15pm,” came the answer.
I put it together rapidly and began to sob even more. “He’s been gone for half an hour…if you can bring him back what are the chances of brain damage?”
“Your husband was very sick,” he answered gently. Such a young man trying so hard… “There is a 1% chance of bringing him back and very little chance that there won’t be brain damage.”
“He’s been gone half an hour,” I said again… “I don’t want him to suffer…” I mustered.
“The doctor just called it,” the young man informed me.
I all but ran back into the room.
All eight of them looked at me. All I could see was my Glen, lifeless on the floor with his eyes still focused on that corner…Glen…my Glen…how could this be when we trusted and hoped and prayed and did everything in our power to heal him here on earth? Glen…
They covered him and removed the tubes. I sank down to the floor in utter shock and disbelief beside him. I held his hand to my face and caressed his face with my other hand.
“Have you got family here? Have you got someone you can call?” one of the ladies was asking me.
I was numb. Did I have family? I don’t know. “I have two sons,” I answered without taking my eyes off of Glen. The tears were still unending and my mouth was incredibly dry.
Someone handed me my phone and I dialed Joshua’s number because I knew Donovan was in class. No answer. I dialed Donovan’s number. He picked up right away which brought another fresh flow of sobs. “Donovan,” I mustered.
“He’s gone. Get hold of Josh and come home.”
“We’ll be right there,” said a weak voice back.
“Please, drive carefully,” I managed as I couldn’t bear the thought of more trauma that night.
My Dad was in Winnipeg. I called my friend Iona.
“Well hello!” said the upbeat voice of my friend.
“Iona…” I sobbed again. “He’s gone.”
I could hear the intake of breath. I could feel the shock my words were imparting. Silence. Then, “We’ll be right over.”
I nodded and hung up. I’m not even sure if I said goodbye. The ambulance lady stayed in the room with me.
“Did you want victim services to call you?” she asked.
I shook my head no. What were they going to say that I didn’t already know… these were my irrational thoughts. “I’m a counsellor,” I ventured. “So was he,” I said softly still holding Glen’s hand and gazing at him. It didn’t look like him as he was so skinny.
She smiled. “Sometimes, as you know, it’s good to talk to someone else…” it was a nice try but wrong timing… I just nodded. Maybe. Nothing and no one could ever make things right again.
“This wasn’t the plan,” I mumbled to her and to Glen. “He broke the contract. He was supposed to get better.”
It was nonsense and most of me knew it but I still believed every word I was saying. I wasn’t angry. Not in that moment. I was in shock and I knew I was in shock. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t making sense and the counsellor part of me was somehow guiding me through by self observation.
“God,” I prayed silently. “You can still bring him back.”
“To that body?” came to my mind whether it was God or me I do not know.
“So heal the body!!!” I screamed to God in my mind. “I know you can!”
Silence. Then, “I took him home to me and healed him more completely than you can understand right now my child.”
Fine. Then know that I am ticked with this plan right now God, and perhaps will be for quite awhile…
Donovan and Joshua walked in and knelt beside me and Glen on the floor, holding me and crying with me. The police were there now. The ambulances were being moved out of my driveway to make room for others to come in. I remember thinking how kind they were. The police said something about not touching or moving anything. I wasn’t even allowed to wipe the blood stains from my beloved’s face. His beautifully handsome face that I would never be able to gaze upon again in my life on earth save for photo’s. The tears just kept coming. I had a pile of Kleenex beside me that I also wasn’t able to move according to the police. I ventured some humour as I pointed to the pile and said, “That’s all from me,” but it wasn’t really funny at all…
Iona and Rob came in, followed later by their two sons Eli and Sasha. We have been friends since we were both pregnant with our oldest boys and now all our boys are the best of friends too. Finally the police came and told me that the coroner didn’t actually have to come because it was obvious how sick Glen was and why he passed away. Usually when someone dies at home there is an automatic investigation. I didn’t care.
Then the policeman told me that the Abbotsford and Mission morgues were full so they have to take him to Vancouver. A fresh flood of tears began rolling down my face and all I could manage to do was shake my head no with vehemence.
“Do you have a plan in place?” he asked kindly.
“Yes,” I said. “The plan was for him to get better.”
He smiled. I was serious.
“Do you know a funeral home?” he asked again but with equal kindness as before.
“I’ll call my Dad,” I said. “I liked the one that took care of my Mom when she passed away.”
I dialed the number and when he answered I again burst into sobs. “He’s gone Dad,” I said.
He’s a bit deaf so he said, “What?” I’m sure it was also disbelief.
“Glen. Dad, he’s gone,” I sobbed. I’m sure my words were barely understandable.
Again, disbelief and shock on the other end.
“I’ll book a flight home tomorrow,” he said.
“Ok,” I sobbed. “Who did Mom’s funeral?” I managed. It seemed like a weird thing to ask at this time yet necessity was driving the question.
“Wiebe and Jeske,” he replied.
“Ok. Thanks.” I was short on words.
“See you tomorrow,” he said.
I nodded. Hopefully I said something…
Iona took over and dialed Wiebe and Jeske. I’m not sure how she got hold of anyone but that’s her part of the story. They were behind tonight because it was a busy night – sounds awful – so it would be a three hour wait before they picked up my Glen. Good. I would have fought anyone off if they had tried to come sooner.
I lay down beside Glen on the floor and cuddled up as close as I could get, knowing that finally he wasn’t hurting when I touched his body. It would be the last time we would have to be close and I didn’t care who was watching. I knew that his body would begin to stiffen soon enough but right now he was still warm and I needed that feeling once more… We had been robbed. Months, years of robbery where Glen was tied to the bathroom; where we couldn’t be as physically close because he was hurting or had to run to the bathroom – plain and simple we had been robbed…and now we had the ultimate in robbery…the life of my man… My mind couldn’t make sense of it just yet. I was reeling. All the Snair’s, my boys and me were in my bedroom surrounding Glen and remembering the many wonderful memories of Glen. Eight of us together for the last time with Glen. Seven of us remembering the wonders of Glen. I couldn’t help but flash back to sitting around my cousin’s dog Fergus who died the night before my Dad’s wedding to Margaret after my Mom passed away. He also lay on the floor and I made tea for us. Me, Glen, Lori and Uncle Menno sat in her bedroom where Fergus died and talked about Fergus. I remember thinking what a funny flashback that was, yet it was there. It was my experience with someone dying in a bedroom. Grief is strange. I alternated between sitting up and holding Glen’s hand close to me and lying on my side beside him for a few hours while we waited for them to come and pick him up. I barely got up to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t leave his side.
Eventually the inevitable happened. The people arrived. I asked for a moment. The Snair’s vacated the bedroom and my boys and I were left behind with Glen. They surrounded me and I began to sob again. “I’m so sorry!” I cried out.
Donovan and Josh were confused. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t see it! I don’t know why I didn’t call the ambulance sooner! I’m so sorry!”
Donovan rebuked me at once. “This is not your fault Mom! That is a lie from the pit of hell and we send it to the pit of hell and rebuke that in Jesus’ Christ Name! This is not your fault! Don’t believe that Mom! Ever!”
Josh also joined in speaking truth over me but my irrational mind was blaming me. As I write this it is not quite a month since my Glen has passed from one realm to another. In conversations with the Holy Spirit, and with Donovan, we have come to understand that the Lord blinded us all to the seriousness of that day. Even Brian who had been there hours before didn’t see that Glen would be leaving us that day. I believe the Lord is saying, “I blinded you all so that I could take Glen that day and end his suffering. The enemy had more torture in mind for my servant, my child Glen. I couldn’t allow that so I took him home and healed him here. He has much to do in preparation for when you arrive as I have much for you to do together. You are one. You are still partners. You are called together. I know this hurts you child and I cry for you. Glen cries with missing you and I wipe away his tears. Work on what you have to do on earth. Glen will work on it from here. And one day again, you will be working together.”
Does it help? I guess so. Some. I am honest with the Lord. I don’t like this separation plan at all. I probably never will. He’s ok with that. He knows it hurts me and God doesn’t like to hurt His children. There is a bigger plan in place than what I can see. I still have times of thinking it’s my fault and I remember my son rebuking me for that. I’m so proud of him for that! My boys have held me tight and are walking with me.
… Finally, I had to let him go. Physically at least. I looked at him and lay beside him again wrapping my arm around him as best I could. I knew he wasn’t really there. “I love you Glen. Always and forever. I’ll see you soon, k?”
The boys said goodbye. Eli, Sasha, Rob and Iona said goodbye. Strangers wrapped him up in shrouded cloth, lifted him onto a gurney, and wheeled him away. I collapsed then into Iona’s arms. I cried again for a long while whilst everyone stood around not knowing what to do. My grief was intense and all encompassing. My legs were giving way so I headed for the couch and asked my boys to sit beside me. We all sat in the living room and prayed.
Glen and I were told that this illness was for God’s glory. Though I’m not sure how yet I know we don’t have the full story nor the full picture. I give God glory for healing Glen, not as we would have liked, but healing him. Glen is more alive than any of us. He is running around with a bigger and better body. He is singing praises to God. He is singing destiny over me, Donovan and Joshua. He is interceding for us before God physically. There is much work to be done here on earth. And apparently in heaven. From the glimpses and few words I’m getting from the Lord, Glen is learning more and becoming so intimate with the Lord. Glen is working hard at whatever it is that he was called ahead of me so very early, too early, to prepare…so that when I get there I can join in the labor and the fun of something well established that has a lot to do with something I am doing here. I don’t get it. I don’t claim to get it. I promised though and with all my being I give God glory. I trust the plan because I trust God. I am learning to accept that plan. It doesn’t mean that I like the plan. God tells me that it’s ok to not like the plan yet. Eventually, when I’m there and see the full picture, I’ll like the plan and it’s ok if I don’t like the plan of being here without Glen for the remainder of the time I’m left here on earth. Good. Because I don’t like the plan!
The reality is that Glen’s story is far from over. I can’t wait to join him and hear all about what he’s been doing in that realm that is right there but just beyond my reach… Did I mention I still don’t like this plan?