Thursday, September 30
A David Psalm
1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
don't forget a single blessing!
3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
He heals your diseases—every one.
He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.
Today Mom and I were together when Pastor John Epp and his wife Katie came to visit. He is no longer our pastor, but I just always seem to want to call him that. Pastor John and Katie "pastor-ed" Alvin and I along our way since I left my pastoral position. They have been a safe place, and they are truly "shepherds" and Pastors at the same time. Go figure!
They came to visit Mom today and we had a good visit. It was "natural" and loving. It was not like a "duty".... but something that felt like they really wanted to be there seeing Mom. We were so glad they came.
John read Psalm 103 in my Bible that was on the table - but he also referred to how Petersen writes it in the Message translation. And I love it!
Mom was blessed too. She was also somewhat tired today. Although she perked up when the doctor came in and told her that she is going to begin the process for discharging mom.
Mom's eyes filled with tears. My heart filled with some fear. When the doctor and I chatted later in the hall, she admitted that perhaps Mom will be able to go home, but that she is dying.
Mom's body is betraying her.
So Psalm 103 - what does this mean for her? in her situation?
with her cancer ravaging her body?
It still means that we must praise God!
(our devotions together was about praising God)
We remember what He has done for us - for our families.
And when he renews Mom's youth - I have a feeling that when she stands in His presence - she will be absolutely stunning! And glowing - that she will finally have gone Home.
Till then - we will take each day as it comes - and we covet your prayers on Mom's behalf...
And, if you think of us - please pray for us too.
It feels like it has been a very emotionally tiring day.
God is our strength. I have to remember that.
Wednesday, September 29
and looking east...
Mom's basil plant
grown from tiny seeds
on trees that are still hanging onto leaves
Today we talked about going home...
Tuesday, September 28
Some of the grandkids are missing in this photo - but we took a picture with those who were there. Everett, Mom's "great grandson" was already in bed! He is represented by the baby monitor in his mommy's hand!
Many of the Klassen gang... Sept 28, 2008
this was a couple days after Michael and Ash's wedding - so they are missing
So is Ingrid, Adrian, Joel and myself (as I took the picture)
Mom and her "birth" kids
left to right: Ruth, Neil, Mom, Rick and Ellie
Alvin laying across the front!
I spent the morning there with her. We talked. We read her "Daily Bread" devotional together. Mom shared some things that were dear to her. It was a sweet time, and I am thankful.
Ashley came and we visited together - and then it seemed time for Mom to have a rest. She said she was tired, so we tucked her in, and left. Ash went to work, and I went to work-out at Curves. When I got back - she was still asleep.
The afternoon was much like the morning - she did some Word Search puzzles. She said it was hard to find the words and laughed when I called it "Brain Physio". We went for a walk (2 revolutions around the Units 8 & 9, stopping to say hi to people along the way. Mom uses the walker still but has surprised us at times when she leaves it to walk away...
Today was a beautiful day outside too. I love this fall weather (when the sun is shining that is!) It was about 20 and somewhat windy, but as I walked to my car - I just looked up - felt the warm sun - felt the wind - saw the colors of the leaves. Fall for me is a favorite season, but always bittersweet! (When I walked through my depression, it was fall... and it was also fall when I spent the last thanksgiving with my dad!)
I came home tonight, feeling very thankful for the day that I spent with Mom. Thankful for the conversations, for reading scripture together. Thankful for being able to help her out, and to listen to the things on her heart. Thankful for the quiet times as she slept and I read.
As I also had a chance to say to Mom today - I am also very thankful for the way she raised Alvin... and for the love and support she gave to me, and to our kids. I told her that she and Dad were always a very important part of the way our kids grew up! Often the kids would call me and say they were just stopping at Grandma and Grandpa's first before they came home to our house. Those were wonderful times, the 9 years that they lived right beside us in Anola!
I told Mom that her and Dad have left a legacy of faith... and we are thankful! Mom wept through some of this discussion. It was a dear sweet time together. I am so thankful for moments like this! I am hoping for even more of them tomorrow!
Monday, September 27
It was inevitable - Elleanore had to go home some time. Elleanore is Alvin's sister. She came from Calgary almost two weeks ago, at a point where we thought we were losing Mom. In the last week, Elleanore (and us all) got to see Mom rally to the point where she was very talkative, getting around with her walker, eating, and laughing. We looked at old pictures, shared a few laughs together, enjoyed fruit that an aunt and uncle brought for mom (from Kelowna). Mom was INSISTENT that we eat it too!
At 6:20, it was time to hit the road for the airport. As I watched Elleanore say good-bye to Mom, I realized how bittersweet this visit was ... and how final this good-bye may be. You see, last week, Mom told the doctor that she wants no more intervention. No more.
That means when her blood levels drop - there will be no transfusions any more.
That means that when her calcium levels go sky-high - there will be no intravenous and drugs to try to dilute and bring the calcium down.
That means that when her kidneys shut down from the high creatinin (sp??) level in her blood - there will be no dialysis.
In Mom's words... "no more treatment"... and that is final.
So each day is a gift. As Mom told me - she believes the doctors have done what they could and that only God knows the number of days. God has ordained them.
It feels odd in many ways. It is a gift for me to be able to spend time with mom... I am very thankful. Perhaps that is why I am not finding a job! (that has been on my mind and I have applied one place - but no interview). God knows it all, and well, I am really fine with it. This time of unemployment is a gift - to be able to spend that time with mom.
If you are reading this - please continue to pray for our family - for us to be able to sit by her side even in those days as we may have to watch her slip away...
Please continue to pray for Mom - God has removed her pain! She has not been on any pain meds for a weeks and a half. That is unbelievable and "only God" ...
Thank you for your prayers on our behalf. We have been blessed and carried.
Some of you have fed us... some of you have emailed... many have prayed.
Thank you... thank you... thank you.
Saturday, September 25
The big old Oak Tree at the front of our land... perhaps Everett will climb this one day!
It is a great tree fit for a swing!
The picture this morning as I looked out from our deck - onto the field.
The colors are getting vibrant!
Wednesday, September 22
It was an interesting day. When we came - Mom was (once again) up and eating breakfast. (if you can call it eating. She eats like a bird, even though she says she is making a pig of herself!)
We (Ellie, Ashley and I) accompanied Mom downstairs for a hair appointment! (yes, in the hospital) and when we came back upstairs, we saw that her doctor was there. While Mom and Ashley went into the hospital room, Elleanore and I spoke with her doctor.
Mom is a miracle case!
The doctor said that her blood (hemoglobin) was coming down, but was not at the point where she had needed a blood transfusion yet.
The other things - (high calcium and other things that are critical and also characteristic of multiple myeloma) were all "good".
You have to remember that last week - on Thursday - she was not very coherent. Her calcium levels in her blood were sky high... which made her confused and very very sleepy. NOT GOOD.
We were all moved into a private room - for final days. And today - she was sitting in a hairdresser's chair!! GO FIGURE.
Now, we know that high calcium is NOT good... among other things. We know that this is round three in this cycle. Each time she gets worse, and doesn't recover to where she was going into the round! Talk about an emotional roller coaster!
Mom is still talking clear at times, remembering details ... and then next thing you know, she is speaking about very random things, and talking to Everett's picture that is taped to her wall. Sometimes we just smile and nod, not knowing what she is talking about.
Tonight I had a talk with my daughter Ashley (via cell) about the day - and about Grandma.
As I mentioned to her - we do not know the number of her days as ordained by God.
So, in the meantime - we visit, we laugh, we weep, we watch, we talk, we hug, we kiss, we reminisce.
In the meantime we take each day as a gift from God - knowing that He is in control of each day of our life. And each night, as I fall into bed for a good night's sleep - I will be thankful for Mom, for each moment together, for each "up" day in a downward spiral.
And so thankful that God knows her days... each and every one. Birth and death.
I am so glad HE knows.
Psalm 139, New Living Translation
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me,* O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can't even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
Friday, September 17
Yesterday, after consulting with the Doctor, she informed us of where Mom was at, and her care. Mom is now considered a level 1, which means that she will be kept comfortable. We were told that since she was having a hard time swallowing yesterday, that her meds would all be in liquid form, put through an IV which was in from when they tried to bring her calcium down intravenously. The doctor said that for pain, Mom would be given hydramorphine. (I think that is the way to spell it?)
So today, we went to spend the day with Mom. And, once there, were told that she has not had a thing for pain since her last pain through pill form, which they tried to give her yesterday afternoon. No pain med? We asked Mom several times, "Mom, do you have pain?" "Mom, how is your pain?" "Mom do you need any pain med?"
Each time Mom answered "no" and we were amazed. When we were talking, the comments went something like this "But I can't believe she has no pain" ...
Well to be honest, I was at first thinking the same thing until it dawned on me! PRAYER...
I have prayed and asked the Lord to take Mom's pain away, or at least keep it at a min.
I have asked friends and family to pray for Mom, that her pain would be kept under control.
I said to my siblings... "Well, I have to tell you, I have been praying, and asking people to pray that Mom would have no pain!"
Prayers that avail much!! NO COINCIDENCE. GOD.... pure and simple!! God is answering our prayers about the pain control! Thank you Lord... thank you.
Please continue to hear our prayers, and Lord, have mercy.
Wednesday, September 15
Albert E. Brumley
Some glad morning when this life is o'er,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).
I'll fly away, Oh Glory
I'll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away).
When the shadows of this life have gone,
I'll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)
Just a few more weary days and then,
I'll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away (I'll fly away)
This morning, as I was getting ready to go back to the hospital to see/be with Mom Klassen, I was thinking back to yesterday, and to something that happened.
It was about 6pm. Ruth (my dear sweet sister-in-law) and I were sitting by Mom's bed. Mom had basically been sleeping. All of a sudden she opened her eyes and said "Everett?" and looked around. It surprised us. Ruth leaned over and said, "No Mom, Everett's not here. Did you think he was? " and we told Mom that Everett was with his mommy in Fargo. Mom just shut her eyes again.
I looked at Ruth and said, "something in me just wondered if she saw Jay" .... and Ruth said, "I know, that is what I was thinking."
Ruth and I had been talking while Mom slept, about Heaven, and what we imagined, based on the Bible, and also based on what we had as our own thoughts. Of course, until we go there - we won't know for sure right? But... I had said to Ruth that when I talked with Mom in emergency a month ago, and we talked about Heaven - I had said "Mom.... you will get to see Jay" to which she had the biggest smile. We also that day, talked about her seeing Dad (husband) and Omi (her mom) and Oma (her mom-in-law) and Mom said, "And my dad. I wonder if I will recognize him - I was only 6 when they took him away (in Russia)"
Now I believe... that when Jay got to heaven - my mom, my dad, my dad in law, ALL knew who Jay Benjamin Klassen was, and greeted him. When I think of Jay in Heaven, I think of him as a boy that can run and play and talk. That gives me such joy and comfort.
So, yesterday, especially that Mom is so weak, and has been fairly emotional when we talk about certain things ... I can not help but wonder (and obviously Ruth was on the same track) if Mom actually got a glimpse of Heaven.....
And whether she did or not...
Whether she just thought she heard our little Everett (on this side of Heaven)
Whether she was dreaming...
It doesn't really matter.
Like Mom said to me a month ago.... she is ready to go "home"...
O sweet Lord... for this day I pray...
For your presence to continue to inhabit and invade Mom's hospital room
For your peace to fall on her
For your comfort for all of us as we sit with her
For your strength - for mom, for us...
For wisdom, and grace and compassion for those who care for her.
We do not know YOUR plan for Mom Lord, BUT we certainly believe that you have one for her life...
And we commit her day, her life to you once again on this Wednesday.
We know that we don't know the future...
But we know who holds it tightly...
It is you Lord...
May we today, have a strong sense of your peace, your power, your presence
May we walk in your strength.
Lord, hear our prayers.
Tuesday, September 14
I spent a good portion of my day at the hospital again today. In fact - I am feeling pretty tired right about now - gotta go to bed.
Ashley came to see Mom today and brought her guitar with her. After a quick tune up - Ashley began to sing, and it became very clear by the look on moms face - that the music was like a balm to her soul!
Ashley sang a family favorite...
It is well with my soul.
Amazing tune - amazing words. Ashley's voice was soft and clear - and Mom had a new look of peace on her face as Ashley sang.
It is well
It is well
with MY soul...
Monday, September 13
At the beginning of August, she went into emerg with extreme pain and was diagnosed with two fractured vertebrae (due to her osteo and her myeloma). She was put on heavy pain meds, and a few days later, Corinna and I took her back into the hospital, as we were worried about her not being able to eat etc.
Little did we know that she would be in the hospital with other complications for a long, long time. In fact - it is over a month. We are not sure if mom will return home to her condo...
and at the same time "HOME" to heaven seems more likely.
Mom's cancer is out of control it seems. Her marrow is no longer producing red blood cells.
Her latest complication has been hypercalcemia which makes her extremely tired and confused. It is hard to see. Hard to see her so aware that she is not making sense, or can not spit out a complete sentence. It is hard to see how this affects her vision, and her perception is out of whack. Mom had such high hopes with her latest blood transfusion... only to be dashed.
Time is precious.
Even though mom is confused today ~ I believe she gets it. I believe she understands that the blood transfusions are no longer able to do their job. I believe she understands that at any time she could say "stop the madness" and just sleep away. It is hard to even think of how one feels when you are faced with decision making about your own life!
Today after my sister in law left at noon, I went and put even more money into my time slot for the parking lot (one of the biggest money makers!) and returned up by her bed with my journal and bible in hand. God directed me to his word - specifically Isaiah 40.
I was touched anew by the words in this portion. I love them. It begins with COMFORT, COMFORT MY PEOPLE...
But I love these words:
verse 26 ~
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. who created all these? he who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength not one of them is missing!
verse 29 ~
He gives strength to the weary... increases power to the weak and renews their strength (my translation!)
I shared this scripture with mom... imagine, he knows the starry host and calls them each by name!! Because of his great power and strength - none of them are missing.
If he cares about a star - how MUCH MORE he cares about us! about MOM...
This chapter brought mom and I great comfort today.
Thank you Lord ... thank you.
Saturday, September 11
the view from the back/side
Everett with his mommy. He thought the flash was going to go off. Now when he sees the little light, he makes this little squinty face first! We realized that he LOVES a camera!!
These days, he is noticing everything!
Wednesday, September 8
Those eyes - melt my heart every time.
Look Out Mommy!
So, now Poppa is home and has come in to see Everett.
Poppa is sitting to the right of where I am (still trying to feed Everett his squash!)
And well - his eyes are on Poppa!
Eyes still on Poppa, and playing with his cup!
When Poppa is around - there is alot of growling, and laughing, and playing!
And now his mommy and daddy know why all the yogurt and fruit didn't get eaten!
(Granny is busted!)
... the fun continues
at this point, Poppa is wearing some squash on his face too!
One more hug and kiss and they came back inside to find Granny (me) once again.
John 3:16 (New Living Translation)
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Tuesday, September 7
It has been over 2 years of wrestling with stuff. Let me be honest. I have done a lot of ranting out loud, to God. I have asked him all the hard stuff about "WHY" and "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING" "WHERE ARE YOU" "WHY MY KIDS?" "WHAT ABOUT THOSE FAMILIES WHO CAN'T TAKE CARE OF THEIR BABY" ... all that stuff. God heard all the good, the bad and the ugly. Oh I am so glad that his shoulders are way bigger than all my stuff!
I have tried to walk in the pieces of the shattered dream we experienced. Spending time with Dr. Crabb certainly helped me in some of that. I will be forever grateful for the week I spend under his teaching at the School of Spiritual Direction in Colorado Springs. It was of great value to "have" to read his book (Shattered Dreams) as part of the required reading for the school. (thinking I need to reread it now again, a year later)
I have been in places where my heart said one thing, and my head said another. Like when one of the pastors I worked with said to me "Joy, it looks like you are doing good, I saw you praying with someone, and it seems you are doing well" To which I replied, "no, actually, I am not doing well. I am struggling with whether God was faithful" You see, I realized how our heads will tell us one thing, and our hearts sometimes struggle to agree. All of my past experience with the faithfulness of God, and what He had done in my life... all of that seemed to vanish when we felt like God was NOT faithful in reviving our little grandson Jay's heart.
There were many times over that first year, when I felt like God had turned his face from us. I remember praying... "Lord, please turn toward us...I just want to see you" and I was thankful when I felt like his face was once again turned toward us!
Just a couple weeks ago, after we had moved, it felt like we had been so busy, and now we could breathe, and once again I felt hit smack dab in the middle with some anger at God. I could not believe it... where did this anger come from? Sometimes we just get blindsided with things! Or has it still been there in my heart - pushed so far back with the other things of life, that it didn't have a chance to move out into the open. It actually took me quite by surprise, as I came face to face with it, and it literally overwhelmed me for a time.
I have struggled still, over 2 years later, with things that were said to me, or done, or not done (when we felt they should have been) and I am still working through some very personal hurt. And while it only involves a handful of people, sometimes it feels like many more. I have to be careful not to lump the "church" in with my dismay over a few. (why is it those in ministry often leave with hurts and struggle to find their way back into the physical church?)
For me, I think the thing that is hardest - is to hear things coming out of mouths that is not congruent with our experience ... our experience (yep, it is pretty real to us) our lives have been so dramatically changed, that sometimes it is hard to sit under some things ... And sometimes, even though I have forgiven, and tried to lay it to rest - the hurt rears its ugly head. Like our counsellor said, forgiveness is one thing. Trust is another. For me, that is the hardest thing... when someone you think "knew" you, actually hurt you deeply. I am really trying to lay it down, over and over and over again. And, I think, with the Lord's help, I am making some headway!
I think that when one goes through such deep loss, such shattered dreams, and feels buried alive by the broken pieces of their heart - I think it is "normal" to feel abandoned by God... or am I out to lunch on this? I think it is "normal" to question God's faithfulness. I also think that God is quite okay with me (or anyone) asking these questions. (I often think of raising my kids, and how they didn't always just take my word on things - sometimes they complained A LOT - and sometimes very vocally. Did I love them any less? Not on your life! In fact, if my kids had just taken everything I said without questioning, I would have wondered about that too. And, whether I gave them everything they asked for, or not - did not undermine the deep deep love I have for my kids. Is this not like our God - only WAY more, because of the face that HE IS GOD!)
The last week or two, has been different. There is this different peace to my heart. Maybe because now I have so much "thinking" time, I have been doing a lot of "processing". I have come to know a lot about myself lately - I am deep thinker with a lot of the thinking happening in the quietness of my day. I am also a verbal processor, so therefore Alvin gets to hear a lot of what is on my mind. I think the fact that I am thinking a lot - is also why sometimes I find it hard to concentrate and "go after butterflies" as my kids tease me.
You have to know that this morning as I sat down to write this - my heart is not questioning, is not angry, is not feeling the abandonment, or feeling incensed at the hurt we experienced. This morning, I feel peace. Peace that is "ONLY GOD" ...
And it is that peace that helps me revisit those thoughts again, and once again look at WHO GOD IS and WHERE HE IS in my life and WHAT HE IS DOING. I am so thankful for days like this - when my soul feels well.
Lately, I have been able to pick up and read a couple books about families who lost children. I have just read the book by Mary-Beth Chapman called "Choosing to See"
and just now almost done reading the book "I Will Carry You The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy" by Angie Smith. Both of these women are married to musicians who also put their grief into words through music/song.
Both of these families lost children the same year as we lost our little Jay Benjamin. As I have been reading, I feel like I "get" their thoughts... I know they are written from the Mom's perspective, but I feel like any Granny could also relate to much of what is experienced and felt.
In some ways, I feel like it has given me a tool to once again walk in my thoughts, to revisit, to continue to work in and amongst and through. Personally I don't think I/we will ever be "through" our grief journey this side of Heaven. Bottom line - as a family, our lives stopped, and restarted with a "new normal" 25 and a half months ago... and I am trying to get to know the changed me! God has been so loving and gracious with me - sometimes it is only with tears that I can acknowledge this!
I guess the bottom line that I am thinking of right now is this: You can not sit on the fence about this: Either God IS or God ISN'T. Either you ACCEPT JESUS or REJECT HIM. Either we have to FEAR or to TRUST
I believe, but often ask God to help my unbelief... I am so weak so often! BUT I believe GOD IS!!
Today, with a heart full of inner God-given peace and joy, I can say that GOD IS!
And that means that HE alone can lead me through whatever comes my way, He alone can take all my questions, He alone is Sovereign and fully in control I realize that He doesn't have to answer anything, and I may never understand a thing, but I still have the decision to fear or trust. And today anew, I am choosing to trust. Why? (because it is not always easy) Because I believe that He is! I hope that you find this for yourself as well.
As I said, I am reading the second of two books I bought last week - and when I googled something, I came across a YouTube that was done - interviewing the Smith family about their loss. There are things that they say in the second and third clips, that resonate so strongly with my.
hope that in some way - you are blessed as well, or that through them, God brings some healing to your soul too. I have come to realize that we do not walk this road of grief alone.
These YouTube clips are about 30 minutes long in total. But you will be blessed I believe.
Thursday, September 2
we KNEW we loved each other - then and now.
I love him!!