I have received a huge blessing from Heavenly Father. My mother lived to see me come home from my mission and I was able to care for her before she died. I felt the Lords hand blessing me intimately and personally during the 21 days I took care of her. Each moment, each bit of service I felt was so sacred and such a gift. It was exactly what I had prayed for. It wasn’t easy, but I knew every day was a gift God was personally giving me as evidence of His knowledge of me and my mother. I missed out on being here to help her in the last year of her life after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, when she really needed me. But I felt the Lord prolonged her life and granted my desire to be able to care for her, at least a little while before she died. That was exactly what I prayed for and exactly what was granted. I want to write about me, my mother and the mission and bear testimony of the reality of our Heavenly Fathers hand that grants blessings.
Around March of last year my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. If she did all the chemotherapy they wanted her to have she would have 1 to 2 years to live. After just 4 treatments she decided she would rather die with good quality of life than continue on with those sickening treatments. She went on Hospice in June of last year with the expectation of 6 months to live. Being on a mission and only having seen her once in the two previous years, this was particularly devastating for me.
I started praying continuously for the blessing of my mother living until I got home and that I would have some time to care for her before she died. She prayed for herself to live until I got home also, (I don’t think she ever thought of me or anyone else caring for her though, she would not want anyone to have to care for her!) She faced her cancer head on with a positive strength that it would not beat her until she was ready to go. She would always say she was good when asked, and keep working and moving as if nothing were wrong. She cared for my ailing father for nine more months, made large amounts of food to feed the neighborhood, kept running her own errands and driving everywhere as if nothing was going to get her down. She wouldn’t even entertain thoughts that she wasn’t going to make it until I got home. She told her hospice nurse she really didn’t believe that she had cancer, she just felt too good.
In Nov of last year she told the hospice people she was going to live until July when I would be home. The hospice people said, “Sure Lucy, whatever you say,” while inside they were thinking no way is that going to happen.
A month before we were to leave our mission my mother started to decline to the point of not being able to care for herself. She went to live with my sister, Teresa who promptly fell and fractured her pelvis in four places. Then my good brother-in-law, John, who was trying to care for both Teresa and mom, injured his knee and had to have surgery on it. Eventually I decided I needed to go home 11 days early from the mission and care for my mom and give my desperate family a break. When I got there I met Janine, her hospice nurse, she said, “It gives me goose-bumps Melonie that you’re actually standing here and your mom is still alive. It’s a miracle. She kept telling us it was going to happen, but we never believed it. Her prayers have been answered.” I cared for my mom for 4 days and then went back to finish our last week of our three year service in the WA Spokane Mission.
Don and I finished our last week in the mission and came home together three weeks ago. Leaving a mission is not easy, but we felt as the last week approached that we were done. A feeling settled over us that we were finished and it was time for us to go. I knew my mother was declining rapidly and I felt anxious to get home as we finished up that week and readied the mission for the Dymocks to take over.
Within hours of arriving home we moved into my mother’s condo and took over full-time care of her. She was so grateful to be able to come home. She was so positive and grateful for anything that was done for her. The last thing my mom ever wanted was to be a burden. She would say, “I am so sorry you have to take care of me.” But what I felt and expressed to her was that I had prayed for this. This was a blessing. Every day, every moment of care for her, for me, was a sacred blessing from God. God was showing His hand to me every day of the 3 weeks I cared for her. I can’t explain it very well, but I felt the time was sacred, a partnership between me, God and her. It was hard, but it was a prayer that was being granted by a loving Heavenly Father. God knew me, and I felt every day he was telling me He knew me.
What I have learned through this last year is that there are many things we pray for that can’t be granted. When I pray for things that involve someone else’s free agency God can’t grant those prayers. He can send people to influence or angels to minister, but he protects others free agency with the utmost respect. He wants to bless us and will at every opportunity though. He is eager to do so. God does not begrudgingly grant tender mercies, he is not hesitant or indecisive in his willingness to be merciful. His anger is slow and hard to be released, and his mercy functions on a hair trigger. “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6)
As I watched my mother’s body fail her I felt I was offering a consecrated service to care for her at such a vulnerable time. As I watched her spirit try to disconnect from her body I gained a new perspective on how death is the last work we do in this life. It was a labor she was performing; work and labor was what kept coming to my mind as she struggled to die. But just like birth, when there is a beautiful baby at the end of labor, I know there is also a beautiful gift at the end of the labor of death, which is amazing peace and rest from the cares of this life. I know when she walked through that door she was free, her work was finished. She had performed her work here on the earth and returned home. It was such a blessing.
I saw my mother filled with gratitude, love and kindness as she faced death. She was extremely graceful as she looked at cancer and her passing. I didn’t receive every blessing I wanted on my mission. But I received so many that my heart is full. I can see. I know. His love and life are a reality. I love my Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and all that they offer us, just to help us. They are not here to be a burden, but to lift, love, bless and give, if we will but receive what they offer.
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., testified: “You know, I believe that the Lord will help us. I believe if we go to him, he will give us wisdom, if we are living righteously. I believe he will answer our prayers. I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to save every one of his children. I do not think he intends to shut any of us off because of some slight transgression, some slight failure to observe some rule or regulation. There are the great elementals that we must observe, but he is not going to be captious about the lesser things. I believe that his juridical concept of his dealings with his children could be expressed in this way: I believe that in his justice and mercy, he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.”