A rough weekend, except for church.

I called my osteopath’s office on Friday to have my regular dose of slow release morphine reordered.  Because it’s a narcotic, the office can’t call the pharmacist with a refill.  It has to be a hard copy, and I hand deliver it to the pharmacy.

Sadly, I didn’t look at the script before dropping it off.  The reorder was not for the slow release morphine.  It was for my roxinal, the liquid morphine I take if the slow release isn’t giving me good relief.  I’m living on the roxinal now, taking it every hour or so to keep my pain at a minimum.  Morphine withdrawal is not fun, and I hope to keep it under control through tonight and into tomorrow.  I will call my DO’s office in the morning to get the proper prescription filled.

On another note, there are no words to express how I feel about Grace Episcopal Church.  I’ve never ‘claimed’ membership to the churches that I’ve been assigned to serve.  Grace is doing everything right. 🙂  Dawn, Becca, and I live for Sunday mornings now.  I feel connected there.  My health has been on a steady plateau and I feel much better than I have in a long time.  Grace has excellent child and adult ed, good preaching, good choir, good outreach, and I feel loved there.  I’ve been thinking and praying about how I can contribute at Grace as we enter 2017.  I love to preach, and miss doing so.  (Preaching isn’t the usual role of a deacon in the Episcopal Church.)  I’m passionate about bible study; my nose is in my bible throughout the day and sometimes at night, too.

My mother died on Christmas morning in 2010.  She had been ill for a while and after being admitted to the ICU she became semi-comatose.  I wrote this reflection; rereading it is the only way I can make sense of her being in heaven:

The Deacon’s Bench

Christmastide, 2010

My friends in Christ,

Today is Wednesday, December 22, 2010.  A Service of Lessons and Carols begins in half an hour.  Sadly, I won’t be there.  Thanks to the marvels of modern wifi communication, I’m writing this from my mom’s bedside in the ICU at Saint Mary’s Med Center in Blue Springs.  My mom is dying.

Mom’s had a rough year. A slow, steady, less-than-gentle decline in her health.  Oh, she’s an ornery, stubborn fighter, for sure. But she’s worn out.  Tired.  My mom is dying.

For many years I worked 12-hour nights as an RN in a Medical ICU.  I’ve ministered to many dying patients and helped ease them, and their loved ones, through this Thin Place we call death.  It was never easy, but it needed to be done.  I hope and pray I was an effective nurse, but my nursing pales in comparison to the kind and loving and caring the RNs and PCAs at Saint Mary’s deliver.  Stealing a line from Willie Nelson, the nurses here are angels…flying too close to the ground.  My mom is dying.

She’s comfortable.  Minimally responsive.  Her vitals are OK, but the nurse in me knows that she will die.  The deacon in me anointed her earlier.  The son in me had a long talk with his mom and told her that she had my permission to go home any time she wanted.  I see it, but I don’t believe it.  My mom is dying.

I’m selfish.  I love my mom.  I don’t want her to die today because four years ago today I asked Dawn Tish to marry me.  Tonight I told mom how anxious Dawn was when they first met.  Dawn wanted to be accepted.  Dawn knows my mom told her she loves her, but doubt lingers.  Looking at Mom, covered with the shawl Dawn knitted for her this Christmas, I think Mom knows that shawl was knitted with love and prayers.  I didn’t like the yarn when Dawn bought it, but as usual I was wrong…it’s a beautiful splash of pastel colors and Mom would love it.  My mom is dying.

If my mom dies before Christmas Eve, I will be at Trinity for the services.  This ornery deacon needs to be with the people who’ve accepted him and his wife…people I’ve grown to know and love and minister to and pray for.  I need to be there for another reason.  A child is born.

The Prophet Isaiah proclaims: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

My friends in Christ, my mom is dying…but a child is born.  Maybe her dying at Christmastide isn’t so bad, you know?  Her leaving, the child coming.   My faith tells me this:  They’ll meet in that Thin Place.

I love you all,

Deacon Jon

Having had both of my parents die, I still ponder how their deaths were so different and how different my reaction to their dying have been.  Mom, for whatever reason, took time to die.  I think it took time for her to die because she had lots of inner work to do.  She held grudges,she could be angry, and struggled with forgiveness.  Dad was alive in one moment and literally was dead before he sat on the floor when his AAA burst.  I was ready for mom to die and mourning her has been so easy.  I still struggle with my dad’s dying.  I was much closer to him and still have times of gut-wrenching grief when I think about him.

When I was in Nursing 101 so long ago I remember what the director of the nursing program told us.  “If you drop out or graduate, you will learn three lessons:  Life isn’t easy, life isn’t fair, and people die.”  Heady, hard lessons for sure.


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