Monday, December 21, 2009

Farewell for Now Angel Girl

Well, it's been more than a "few days", but it's given me time to reflect on all that's happened these past few weeks....and of course, learning how to move forward without caring for Jessica full-time as well as being without her presence. She wasn't herself these last few weeks and we all knew it, but in my heart she was and still is my chatty, abundantly full of life and love, funny, thoughtful, interesting daughter.
I miss her coming into my room, plopping on the bed and sharing her heart....or the latest Hollywood gossip :). I miss our meal plans....and we could plan meals!! We loved looking through recipes and had just started our subscription to "Food Network" magazine....I miss the way she worried about all of her siblings and was sure she could fix their problems somehow. And how she always looked out for me, always so sensitive if she saw me overdoing it or stressed out....and so much more. We learned to read each other well through all this and didn't end up using a lot of words at the end. I really thought that when she died, it would rip out part of me because our lives were so entwined. And there is definitely some of my heart missing... figuratively speaking, of course!:) But, I have learned something. When you love as deeply as most of us mothers love our children, and the one you love is in agonizing, terrible pain, your heart is actually hurting too much to want to hang on to them. Letting her go, encouraging her to go, begging God to take her home was all I could do at the end. And my heart is now at peace, because my girl is.
Mark feels exactly the same..... as do all the children. Jessica's suffering was just too great. Kayla, Alex,Jordan, and even Joy, though they've all had their very hard moments, are really, really glad she's not hurting anymore.

The memorial service to Jessica was just as she would have wanted, I have no doubt. Many of us dressed in pink, or wore some form of pink for Jessica, including Cory and Mark who actually wore pink dress shirts!! and Jordan in his pink beanie. She did not want a dark, drab funeral and we honored that. Our church has a 60' screen that they had written across "In Memory of Jessica Jean Snead". Seeing that beautiful name so big like that was my first breakdown. A few of us in the family shared a little of our journey with Jessica including Alex, Mark and I and the previous letter from Alyssa. Music included a very talented singer in our church singing The Climb (Miley Cyrus) and closing with It is Well with Our Soul, as well as other worship. Our worship team did such an amazing job. A lady who worked with Jessica had offered to put together a slide show and did a fabulous job! But of course there were so many tears seeing Jessica's entire life go by in 20 minutes. Finally and best of all, over 20 people raised their hands in response to our pastor's invitation for people to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Jessica was most certainly rejoicing in heaven!

We wrote a little about Jessica's passing, but I cannot stop reliving the awesome event that it was. The dying process had actually had started the night before but we didn't know it. I only slept an hour because she was groaning so, and we were told it was her meds causing that sound. She began to lose focus and her lungs had had enough, so the doctor told us late in the morning we didn't have long. The reason I share all this, is because death can happen quickly or it can be a long, drawn out process. The Lord was perfectly merciful to all of us in not letting it be drawn out, but giving enough time for all the family to be there who wanted to as well as our pastors that her gradual entrance into heaven be witnessed by all of us. He didn't have to let us see that, but He did. He wanted us to see that heaven is very real, that Jessica was going to be very glad to go there (that final, amazing smile on her face said it all), and that we could rest knowing all these things, as well as share the story with others who wonder about afterlife. I realize that we have the assurance of salvation if we have accepted Christ, but there is something amazingly powerful about witnessing any kind of a glimpse of eternity. We realize that eternity is so much closer than we think.....truly just a breath away!

Jessica even made us chuckle in the last minutes (between our tears). At that point, many of her words were indistinguishable and slurred. Well, she was listening to all of us tell her to go ahead and go, she didn't need to fight any longer, etc. just releasing her. Suddenly we hear her say, "I'm trying!". That was so cute. Then she says "should I stop breathing?". She was being so sweet and innocent, just trying to do what she thought she was supposed to! But we did also get to hear her utter some last "I love you's" and a few of those beautiful words describing heaven. That sight remains forever etched in all of our hearts who were there.

This journey that started over 18 months ago and probably longer if we read Jessica's symptoms prior to that, has been long and difficult, although we know of many people who travel the cancer road much longer, some for years and years. The thing that just astounded our family though, and truly made the journey much, much lighter was the many, many (yes, I'm repeating words a lot here) people who journeyed with us. You just don't expect people to stay the course that long. Yet, we have so many faithful friends and church family who never let us go. They held us close in prayer, they checked on us constantly. They fed us, blessed us in unique ways and kept us on a steady diet of faith and hope-filled words. I am crying just thinking about it. And the doctor God sent us couldn't have been better. He encouraged us to keep believing against the odds, even when his scientific mind told him there was no hope. He let Jessica lead and that empowered her till the very end. All in all, God has been very good to us, in what could've been a lonely, depressing, pain-filled road.

If you ever, and I pray you don't, ever have to endure such a journey, may you know the love of the Saviour who never lets you walk alone, who holds you close through every painful moment, and who can ultimately reunite you with the ones who have gone to heaven ahead of you.
And may you also know what it is to have a family of believers around you. There are amazing people out there who are ready to do life with you. You can find them in any good, local church if you are willing to step out and become a part of it.
Well, those are a few of my thoughts, but if it helps any, they are backed up by many great bible verses!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The First Week

What does grief look like after the funeral? I am sure it depends on many things, but for me right now, it is an emotional distancing from life. I cannot think about stores, or errands or socializing or my old life too much. It is not like I am thinking about Jessica every minute, but there is just such sadness in my soul. We were privileged to get a glimpse of the workings of eternity, but it feels like the veil has come down somewhat and I am left with memories of those events and scrambling to stay in the word, read the word, read the word. Do not despair, I tell myself, keep her close, imagine her life in heaven, know that she is thinking about you and those common passions you share will be shared again someday. I wonder, too, how to interact with others around me. Just because I am talking and maybe even laughing doesn't mean I'm okay or want to keep talking. I'm just not a fall apart all the time kind of person anyways.
I am glad for a large family. They are my comfort and I hope I can comfort them. Obviously, Jesus is the source for all our comfort, and I am completely trusting Him for it, even if it needs to be minute by minute.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Healed Forever with Jesus

At 2:30 today Jessica entered into her rest and perfect healing. It was a privilege to watch her as she saw glimpses of heaven, "it is pretty", "its so beautiful", "its too bright". She raised her weak little arms in worship and smiled her last smile here on earth.

The pain and suffering were so great last night and today. With Cory, Mark and Kayla and a team of pastors we encouraged her, urged her to go and be free.....and she even said, "I'm trying"... in her weakened state.:)..and continued being polite to everyone. Her doctor said she was the politest patient she'd ever known. And the toughest. (We said, if you only knew!)
Goodbye for now, my baby angel girl/best friend......

Rejoicing for her, sad for the rest of us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Only A Miracle

So, unless we get an amazing miracle Jess won't be coming home from the hospital. She is having a very hard time and we are making final preparations. She is in a lot of pain so they have changed her medication now to something stronger than ever. She is hurting in so many places, has no appetite at all now and just wants to rest.
So, we want her to have the perfect rest...which can only come in the arms of Jesus.
We don't know if we have a day or two or not. Just saying our goodbyes and trying to keep her comfortable.
The cards and gifts have just blessed her so much!! You will never know how much....
Probably don't need to send them any longer unless you'd like to send any to Cory.
I cannot say enough about the support we have from our church. It seems like the entire leadership team has made themselves available and have lifted so many burdens from us, standing (or sitting :)) with us, helping with details, emotional support for the kids, etc. We can just focus on spending this time with our girl....which I am going to do right now. Back to the hospital!
Thank you Wave Church, thank you friends for your love, calls, support and prayers.

In all this we know our God IS good and we trust Him more than ever before with our hearts, our lives and our future.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cherishing the Moments

At this point, no one can give us an exact timetable, but Jessica's kidney's are failing quickly. Once the kidney completely fails, she will not be with us long. She is suffering with swollen legs and feet along with her abdomen.

She is spending her time organizing things between many short naps, writing notes,hanging with Cory and her siblings and having short visits with people. She is still amazingly beautiful and sweet and sensitive and can still make us laugh.....her and I have late, late nights together watching Dr. Quinn or Christy reruns and talking while I rub her legs and feet or back. These are times I will cherish forever.....

How do you prepare to say goodbye to a beautiful person like this whom you have loved for over 23 years? Right now all we can do is enjoy each minute of each day we have together, hug and kiss her as much as she will let us, and keep talking it all through, keeping the big picture in sight as much as is possible.

One day at a time right now.

Jessica is loving the Christmas cards that have been coming in the mail. On Facebook we had asked people to send Christmas cards to bring some Christmas cheer into Jessica's world. Anything to see her smile......