Right now Rachel‘s uncle is in palliative care and he’s been given only a day or two to live. Her Uncle Ron is a strong man who has had its ups and downs in life and is now sitting in the hospital with many of the ones that are closest to him. He isn’t talking much, his potassium levels are fatally high and eventually his heart will just stop. When Ron was coherent, he had the best sense of humour possible for a situation like his and all he wanted was the people that he loved around him. He cared about his family so much and he would be there at the hospital with them if the roles were reversed. He was an awesome guy and treated people wonderfully.
But sitting here at the palliative care unit, he’s helpless. He depends completely on the drugs to remove the pain, his family to cure his loneliness and God to remember his soul. He lies there as the world spins on around him, and I can’t help to notice how much the palliative care unit gives me a slow motion picture of the world so it can be understood better. People’s characteristics shine brighter than anything and you can really tell who people are and there isn’t much room to be someone else. All the good and bad traits of the family, nurses and friends are on a pedestal for everyone to see. The very presence of death or at least the expectancy of death emphasizes life everywhere else. Death is magnifying life, and out of death is coming all sorts of living relationships and breathing qualities.
There is much that brings peace to a situation like this. For starters, Rachel’s mom, Liz, has been the most unbelievable person through this all. At first you think she is a kind, caring women who you always feel safe around. Then when you see her now, these qualities blow me away. She is stronger as she deals with everything going on around her; crazy dynamics you wouldn’t believe. Still spending twenty hour days sitting in the hospital just holding Ron’s hands and telling him he’s loved. She is also the security guard, at Ron’s request, allowing special visitors into the room and ensuring others Ron knows of their visit. When Ron does wake up, he often shouts her name, desiring her to be there at all times, giving him the good and bad news through it all and telling him that he’s loved.
Rachel’s dad, Geoff, is another that amazes me through all of this. He worked hard to get time off work, get Ron transferred to Sarnia from London, be his power of attorney and all the while making decisions and running the show with leadership and integrity that we would wish in anyone. The decisions that he has had to make so far (not to mention the ones to come) have been draining mentally and emotionally but he stands strong, with his fifteen minute catnaps sprawled across the waiting room, snoring of course, and then gets up and starts the whole process over again. Geoff and Liz support each other and love each other and depend on each other through all of this and all the while allowing their love for each other to extend to everyone around them, especially Ron. The whole situation really is a beautiful experience of what a family should be.
Or how about the guy that came in to “say a prayer with Ron.” There is nothing better than someone who wants to just pray nice and loud for Ron to hear so that maybe he will repeat after him to the prayer of salvation. His motives were pure, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Like I said, characteristics and beliefs are emphasized loud and clear, good or bad. Hopefully this man will pray anyway, even if Ron doesn’t here him.
If you have a minute, take it and keep Rachel’s family in your prayers. Ron is going to pass away soon, and the family needs as much prayer as possible. Pray that Geoff continues to have the wisdom and integrity that he will need more and more as long as this goes on. Pray that Liz continues to demonstrate Jesus the way she has been to everyone she has encountered. Pray that Rachel keeps supporting her family the way that she has, strong and encouraging. Pray that Ron goes peacefully.