I had been enjoying a quiet evening with my sons, mentally preparing myself for Monday, and the beginning of a new work week.
A phone call swept us into the type of spin cycle a washing machine spews when it’s overfilled.
It was my father-in-law, Curtis on the phone, telling me that my mother-in-law, Katie, had died, and a critical-care team was working to revive her.
“They’re doing CPR now,” he said.
“In the name of Jesus,” I prayed into the receiver.
I stopped at ‘Jesus,’ because I thought God would understand my prayer as I drove down the highway, determined to see Mom again. Plus, I wanted to reach Dad as soon as possible.
When my sons and I reached the hospital, my sister greeted us at the door. Because she stood before me, looking fairly composed, I knew that CPR had worked.
“We need to move her,” I told my sister-in-law, Teresa.
My husband, Tory, and brother-in-law, Jeff, have previously received critical care at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Tory had survived cancer; Jeff, a stroke.
They’d defeated illnesses that had not spared others the finality of death.
In the balance between finding out Mom had coded and learning that she had been brought back, I remembered the helplessness of losing my biological dad nearly 30 years ago. The death of a parent is a life-changing event from which there is no recovery, just acceptance and a belief that there will one day be a day of reconciliation.
Because Mom had been sent to ICU after visiting hours were over, the hospital suspended rules to allow us to spend time with her as needed. She’d been intubated and sedated following cardiac arrest, so we soothed her with commands to “rest, take it easy, hold on . . .” all the words that come easily when the Family seeks a return to normalcy.
By day two, Mom’s smile was back, though she was still weak. She understood that we had requested her move to Chapel Hill, and satisfied with such knowledge, awaited medical transport.
I’d seen death snatch life from loved ones before, rip them from earthly bonds shared in love. But, in bedside prayers with Family, I never felt as though Mom would leave; never reconciled my mind to the fact that her time was up.
I consoled my sons and waited for Mom to regain strength.
Finally, on a day when my sister had braided her hair and her appetite had returned, Mom told us simply, “If I don’t tell y’all bye, you know I ain’t gone nowhere.”
We believe her and life goes on.