I used to love when night came because it meant that I could go to bed and say goodnight to the world for a few hours. I used to love the quiet, the peaceful feeling, the way I could relax now that my work was done for the day.
Mom turned 90 in April. Since then she has steadily gone downhill. She often has her worst times at night. Now I fear the night. As it starts to get evening I begin to wonder if tonight she will have a hard time. The dread increases as the evening progresses. I check on her about 8pm to give her some medication to help with any shortness of breath that may come on. Some evenings she is just fine. Other evenings she is so bad I fear I will lose her.
She now sleeps sitting up in her easy chair in her bedroom. That is the only way she can get comfortable and sleep with the shortness of breath and fullness she feels in her chest. Sometimes she has chest pain and out comes the nitro spray. I prop up her pillows, I put on her fan, I get her her medication and her insulin shot. Then she can go to sleep. But she often can’t sleep. She just tosses and turns. I lay on her bed in the dark watching, watching… Yes, her chest is still rising and falling. Yes, I hear her breathing. I keep watching while I sip on a cup of tea. The minutes tick by. Soon it is a couple of hours. I don’t want to leave her till I know she is OK. Sometimes I phone the nurse on call. Just to get reassurance I am doing everything I can possibly do.
I pray and pray some more. I talk to God in the dark. I just downloaded a CD by a group called Rend Collective. They have a song called “True North”. Part of the words is, ” I will follow you into the dark”. These words have a profound effect on me because I must face the dark. It is all around me and I can’t escape it. As I lay on Mom’s bed in the dark of the night I am following God into the dark of my soul. The dark of knowing that one of these nights Mom probably won’t wake up in the morning. But I am comforted by the fact that what is true in the light is also true in the dark and God is my comforter, my protector, my all sufficiency, my enough. Both in the light and the dark. It says in the bible that the dark is as light to God so if I follow Him into the dark I do not have to be afraid of the dark cause God is light.
It’s hard not to let my own fears rise up above the comfort of God’s light in the dark. I have to force myself to rest in God and trust him rather than give in to the fear.
Usually around midnight or 1am, Mom seems to settle and if she talks to me and she seems lucid I feel I can leave her and go crawl into my own bed. By this time though I am usually on hyper -alert and I can’t sleep. I often go downstairs and watch TV for awhile, have a snack, and do a quick check on Mom every once in a while. Sometimes I fall off to sleep in front of the TV, sometimes I am awake till the light starts to stream in the window. I usually can count on 2 days of hyper-alert before i can settle down to normal life again. Unfortunately, these nights are happening more often. There is not going to be enough time to regroup between bad nights.
Well, the night is coming…. I had better go give Mom some medication and hope for the best. Another night is coming…..