The Saturday evening before last would prove to be the start of a trial which Cody had never experienced until that night.
Several months ago my sister Connie had been diagnosed with cancer of the lung and brain and her condition was deemed terminal. Now on this night we would stand by her side as she arrived at the crossroads between the finite life of the flesh and the eternal life she would possess in Heaven.
Having been at the bedside of other loved ones as they made this journey, I knew what to expect. But Cody did not. He had never been present during someone’s passing. And since we could not leave him home alone with Bill’s mother, this would be a first for him.
I could see Cody already knew things were becoming more serious earlier in the day. My sister Pam and I had spent the previous night with Connie in her hospital room. Aside from a rare fun weekend away, my overnights away have either been at work, or dealing with a family crisis. It’s been a year since I’ve worked outside the home, so when I arrived home late Saturday morning I was met by my nervous and agitated young man.
He paced back and forth rambling on about being home without me which is his way of giving me the “And just where have you been all night?” inquisition.
Having had very little sleep the night before, I was dog-tired. Nevertheless, I tried my best to be understanding of Cody’s discontent and to do whatever I could to make up for my absence the night before.
Just as Cody had begun to calm down and we were sitting down to dinner, the phone rang and Pam told me I needed to come to the hospital. I would have been content to go alone, but Bill didn’t want me to. So, the three of us set out to endure this tribulation together.
It is a 30-mile drive to the hospital and it seemed it took an eternity to get there. On our way I prayed that Cody would find peace of mind during this sad ordeal.
When we arrived I walked in the room and exchanged silent hugs with Connie’s two sons as well as various other family members. I thought Cody and Bill were behind me but I turned to see them both out in the hallway. Bill whispered to me that he and Cody would just stay out there for a while.
Needless to say, my main focus was doing whatever I could do to see that Connie was as comfortable as possible and providing any comfort I could to her two boys. But I also took breaks to walk out and check on Cody and Bill. I was so surprised to see how well Cody was keeping it all together. He seemed quite content to quietly walk up and down the hallway. It was not at all like the nervous pacing of a caged tiger we are so used to seeing when stress levels are elevated. He was in control. He was composed and mannerly. I was so proud of him I could not help smiling even in such sorrow.
Connie’s final moments came at around 2:30 a.m. the next day. We all stood around Connie’s bed whispering goodbyes and I love yous to her. In tears, we watched the grueling process her body was undergoing. I then turned to see my son looking in from the doorway of her room. He was standing completely still with his hands in his pockets. His demeanor was very subdued but there was an inherent understanding in his eyes which struck a chord in my heart. He was so poised and dignified. I was just in awe.
As I stared at him with strange wonder, Bill quietly asked him, “Do you want to go in?” Cody answered back in a whisper that was barely audible, “Not.”
A few seconds later, Connie drew her final breath and her pain ceased forever.
All the way home, I praised my son for how he had become such a strong young man and how much he had impressed me. I had prayed for God’s grace and peace to be upon my son in this difficult situation. When all was said and done, I knew my prayers had been answered.