My Aunt has leukemia. They found it two years ago this Christmas. With treatment, they said, her prognosis was great, and this is a very treatable strain. We were fortunate to find a matching donor in the family, and she had a stem cell transplant last fall. Only a couple of weeks after my Dad died, we learned that her transplant had failed. They were still hopeful that they could at least keep beating it back with the chemo stick, which they restarted in the summer. And then this fall, she started developing some internal bleeding that they've been unable to get under control. Last week, we got the call we've been dreading, she's back in the hospital, and they're stopping the blood transfusion treatments that have been keeping her alive.
So, after much prayer and discussion and ugly crying and consulting my pastor, Chris and I jumped in the car last Wednesday and drove from Seattle to San Jose in about 24 hours with a nap in Oregon. I got to see her Thursday evening for a few minutes, and I was allowed to lay hands on her and pray for healing. The next morning, I got to go back and spend about 20 minutes of uninterrupted time with her, and it was worth every minute of being crammed in the car, exhausted, sick with a terrible cold, anxious over all the family relationships run amok that I was walking into...
So, Friday morning, we slept through my alarm, but managed to get to the hospital before the rest of the crowd of my relatives. My uncle Zia was there, and he was very good about letting Jacquie and I just talk.
Jacquie has always had an "ethereal" demeanor, she has a very soft voice, chooses gentle words, and really would have probably been very well suited to her first calling as a nun, had she pursued it. So conversations with her have always been slow and easy and about feelings and real stuff, and they're rarely difficult. We got to talk for about 20 minutes uninterrupted, and it was really good to be able to talk properly.
At one point she offered to have me go out to her house and go through her clothes, since I've lost so much weight, but really, not only is it an hour-long trip one way that requires her husband to play sherpa, but she's a lot shorter than I am and we're opposite proportions... and we didn't have that kind of time anyway, and her husband really needed to be there with her. But it was a good opportunity to encourage Zia to have some help from their community to come and pack up the general stuff for donation after he'd been through to reserve special things for their kids and grandkids, and then it was good to tell her that I already got all the "best stuff" that I'll never outgrow or won't ever go out of style... like sleepovers and birthday parties and grilled cheese with tomato soup, and having a safe person who loved me no matter what.
So, as is typical with people on morphine, she'd kinda drift off into some thought bubble and then come back with this laser intensity. She said she did love me no matter what, and sometimes you can't do anything for someone you love except love them anyway and pray. And I absolutely agree. So then she said: "So what do you think about this whole "faith thing" anyway?" with her head cocked to one side. I took a deep breath and said: "I'm just crazy mad in love with Jesus." She brightened up like a little kid again and practically shouted "ME TOO!"
We talked about how she'd wanted to be a nun, and she said how "It took a long time to even consider letting Baha'u'llah in." I said, I know, I remember talking about it. She got quiet again and then said very quietly: "The Baha'i writings say that at the time of death, that all the veils are lifted. Do you think that's true?" Yes, I do. I think that when we die, all is revealed. And God exists outside of time, so He's not bound by it. "Well, then maybe if I got it wrong, I'll get another chance to get it right." And I said that I felt confident that she has it right already, because she loves Jesus. Ultimately, it's not my job to know, much less decide who goes where and what God's plan is. It's my job to answer "Jesus" when I'm asked what I know to be true.
And it just rained poured drowned us all in GRACE in that room. And to say that I am thankful would be to cheapen the whole experience.
So we wrapped up our goodbyes and I love yous and I left her to rest, since the crowd was due any minute. And later, Zia gave me a huge hug and thanked me for coming and giving her comfort.
Mom had sat in with us when I prayed for Jacquie's healing the night before, and she thanked me for it, and when I told them about my delivery from fibromyalgia, they didn't know what to say, but mom said later that they talked about it and were moved. So when mom showed up Friday morning, I told her how our conversation went, because I wanted to avoid any misunderstanding so there was no room for the enemy to play with some story about having pressured her or something goofy.
And then we left, because we were very concerned about getting any of them sick, as well as the other patients on the oncology ward. And we had many miles to go to come home by Saturday evening. So we'll see what there is to see when this all boils down, but I'm confident that I'll see her in Heaven eventually. And that feels good.
Yesterday, my mom said that she asked her doctor why she is feeling so well. He said that when it comes down to this stage. She is in God’s hands not his. I just received word that she is clearly declining today, and for her sake we all hope the Lord takes her sooner than later, as she sleeps most of the time, but has a headache and is nauseous when she is awake.
So this Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I got to receive the comfort of knowing that I'm going to get to see her again. And I'm grateful that I got the opportunity to offer her comfort when she sought it.
Love each other well, people. Say what needs to be said. Share the life that truth and appreciation deliver. Give each other the comfort of knowing they are known, and they are LOVED.