January 9, 2021
LPW…Wednesday was difficult. I was paying attention to what was happening in D.C., but that isn’t why. I wasn’t surprised by the direction that D.C. went though. I guess I’m a bit numb to so much of that. No, the difficult part for me was that I began trying to remember some of the good things that happened in the hours before Sarah left us and I realized that I was starting to forget…and it upset me. Now I know in the past I have shared how my brain wouldn’t let me forget the traumatic things that happened right before she died and I would love to forget those things. However, there were some really beautiful things that happened as well and I don’t want lose those. You see, as weird as this will sound to some of you, when you spend time with a person who is dying, some really extraordinary things sometimes happen. Especially, when that person is a believer.
A few years ago, I arrived just moments after my Mamaw passed away and heard the stories. Just two weeks later, I was with my Papaw when he passed away. It truly was beautiful watching their faith become sight. My Papaw had Alzheimer’s. He hadn’t been himself in a very long time. Seeing the look on his face as he looked past me and my Aunt into eternity, it changed me. There was such peace and recognition, like we hadn’t seen in a long time. Now the stories of my Mamaw passing and in the hours before she passed, were unique for sure. She was actually talking out loud quite a bit. She talked to family that was beside her but, she also was arguing with Jesus about going in a way that only she could! You see, she had an amazing relationship with Jesus. He was her Lord and Savior and she never got tired of talking about Him and all the ways He blessed her, but leaving her family was hard. They must have worked out the details though, because she gave up and went. My family surrounded her and they said when she died they got goosebumps because they could feel another’s presence enter and leave the room. She had a touch lamp on her bedside table. It went out. No one touched it. Gives me the chills just thinking about it.
In the days and hours leading up to Sarah’s passing, there were things so special that I feel I just need to write them down. So, bear with me as I journal this and continue to process all that we witnessed. First of all, I never want to forget Sarah’s absolute trust in God’s plan and timing for her life here and in eternity. She knew that Jesus could heal her on earth, or heaven, and once she understood that Jesus could help those of us left behind heal from her leaving us, she was ok with going. She was especially ok with it, if it led others to faith in Jesus. She never stopped giving Him the credit for the strength that she had and the joy that just oozed out of her. After her lung drain failed, she started to have more hospital staff come visit. We knew they were all trying to say their good-byes. They would often tell her how amazing she was but, she was always quick to smile and say, “Thank you, but it’s not me. It’s Jesus in me.” We knew she was popular with the staff, but they really went out of their way to let us know how much they cared and how special they felt that she was. The darker things got, the brighter she shined. She resolved to worship and sing with every last breath, as long as she was awake and even as she slept, the worship music never was to be turned off on her phone. It was always close by her. We were blessed to have James, our worship pastor, allowed to come and sing worship songs together the day before she passed. She loved every second of it.
Speaking of sleeping…during the last week or so, I pulled the hospital couch over and slept as close to her as I could, if I was able to sleep. Her sleep was restless and when she did, she’d dream. She started talking in her sleep a lot. I would listen to her talk in her sleep to her friends, to Libby, to her family, to who knows… So many people were on her mind. About a week before she passed, she woke up in the middle of the night and told me that she had been dreaming about Grandpa Barney. Grandpa went to heaven in July. In her dream, the family was at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Brookville, like a holiday. She told me everyone was talking and no one noticed that Grandpa was going up the stairs by himself, except for her. She was worried about him on the stairs. So, she was calling out to him and started following him up the stairs and down a very long hall that suddenly didn’t look like Grandma’s house any longer. She said he went through a door and she started to follow, but stopped because there were no walls or windows in the room—just stars. After she told me all of this, I was just stunned. I knew that it was a prophetic dream. I told her not to follow Grandpa up the stairs again, if he came to her in a dream. I wasn’t ready for her to go with him.
Some nights she would wake and ask for her bible. Sometimes she would ask me to read it to her. Sometimes, she just wanted to hold it. As they sedated her, she continued to dream “out loud” if you will. She talked in her sleep about Instagram and I could completely hear her trying to inspire others to be careful what they subscribed too. You see, she had learned to fill her news feed with things that fed her spirit and heart, instead of things that caused her to compare herself to others. She really felt burdened for teens that struggle with that. Having cancer and losing her hair brought out a confidence in her and taught her so much about where true beauty comes from.
Once, in her sleep, I heard her discussing things that you would hear at one of her FFA meetings. She loved being a part of all the amazing things that her club had to offer. She had so many ideas for the reporter position and being elected an officer meant so much to her.
The more her lungs filled with fluid, obviously the harder it became to breathe and talk, but she would wake some and continued to call out to me. She continued to sing when she recognized the song being played. She recognized everyone that came to her, when she was awake, and always stayed like herself. The closer she got to passing though, the harder it was to breathe and the more she was sedated. Her dreams became more vision like and I really believe that she was in the “in-between.” Being half-awake she would attempt to talk to us about the things she was seeing. Once, she said “Uh-oh Mom… Dad’s getting ready to post the video!” I quickly moved to her bedside and asked her “what video?” Her answer was…”The one with the glow-sticks. It’s a social media challenge thing.” We all kind of giggled as we thought about the reality of that ever happening. Chad knows nothing about social media challenges and would be the last one to post any sort of video. That’s actually how the glow-stick challenge that the FFA club sponsored at her Celebration of Life came to be. As we reflected on how she was like a light in the dark, we were reminded of her glow-stick vision. It seemed like a perfect fit…Sometimes we need to break before we shine.
One of the last visions she seemed to have that she was able to communicate to us was about peacocks. She suddenly spoke to us and said “Mom, do you see it?” I responded, “See what, baby?” She said, ”The peacocks…” and then mumbled some other things that I couldn’t understand. However, she quickly said “Libby was there, she saw it too.” A few days later, as I was processing her saying that at that time, it occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t Libby that she was seeing, but one of her siblings that looks like Libby. How I wish I could have understood everything she was trying to tell me that she was seeing. I know she was experiencing vivid colors and beautiful things. I’m not sure if Grandpa came to show her the way home, or who guided her, but she went very peacefully considering how hard it was to breathe. All of a sudden, she opened her eyes to focus on something and she just stopped. The struggle was just over. We cried and begged for her spirit to come back to her body, but we also knew that it was selfish to ask her spirit to come back to a broken body. We knew she was in the presence of Jesus and she was worshiping Him. As we spent our last moments with her body and preparing for them to take her away, I swear she was glowing. I’ve seen a few people in the moments after they have passed and and none of them have had a brilliance about them like she had. She was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Through the tears and the heartbreak, it felt as if we were looking at a sleeping angel.
So that’s the story of her final days and hours. I’ve not mentioned everything because I just can’t. I don’t share this to find more sympathy. I simply felt led to journal and share the things that we witnessed before my brain forgets all the details. I’m still processing being here without her and I still have a long way to go before my broken heart is healed. I feel so blessed that I got to care for her and watch her grow into such a beautiful soul in the 15 years that He shared her with us. She’s still inspiring so many.