Following Bereaved Mother’s Day and the traditional Mother’s Day, I took a week to ‘unplug’ from my site: ‘Hope in Jesus for the Bereaved Parent’. It was the 1st time I had done such a thing since it came into existence twenty-three months ago. I needed a break. My knuckles and hands ached so from the arthritis, my eyes were blurred from staring at the LED lights on my laptop, and mostly my heart ached from all of the grief. I wanted to make sure I made it through these two most difficult days before taking this break. I also made numerous annual doctor appointments for this week to ‘get them out of the way’. However, things did not go as expected. It began with my annual blood test preceding my physical.
I spent the next few days seeing my Dermatologist, Gynecologist, Rheumatologist, and even my Dentist. All went as well as to be expected, but then I saw my General Practitioner who explained to me the results of the lab work. I was then informed that I am in Stage 3B of chronic kidney disease. I have spent this past week contacting two kidney foundations and requesting materials, reading articles on line, watching and mulling through videos, in an attempt to educate myself and seeking out my options. I want to be informed and have as much understanding as possible of what I may be facing. I even contacted someone whose son had personally walked this walk and eventually had a kidney transplant. She spoke with her son, who had also been a nurse, and she told me that my ‘numbers’ are not good…at all. It is a bit of an anomaly that I would find myself with this particular disease. It would seem from what I have researched that such is often the result of diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol, etc., …none of which apply to me. So, I have concluded that the only thing I can do is change my diet. I am limiting my consumption of red meat, increasing my intake of water, greatly increasing my intake of ‘live’ food such as salads with only olive oil & vinegar, adding fruit daily and some fish. Essentially, I need to detox my body. Kidney disease seems to be the result of a build-up of toxins and the inability for the kidneys to properly emit them. I have also ceased the intake of all supplements. I have been taking a number of supplements for years believing I was doing a healthy thing for my body. I have now come to learn that there are some that can cause harm to the kidneys. The good news is that my urinalysis returned normal which supposedly signifies no kidney damage. So although they are not functioning as they should, so far they are still ‘healthy’. I am also limiting what few medications I have to take for pain, and to minimize the muscle spasms caused by my damaged spine (but please don’t tell my doc). There is not much more I can do on my end that I know of so I have placed it all into God’s Hands. I even fasted a day which I found to be a big mistake with this condition. Fasting causes fat cells to go into action when they think the body is starving. In my situation, when this occurred, toxins which are stored in these cells were also released. I became very ill for two days, as a result. Someone had told me to not even fast unless God leads you to do so. Apparently, I was trying to handle this on my own.
What the final results will be of this little experiment of mine will not be known for two to three months when I return for more lab work. The next step will be for an ultrasound of my kidneys. My GP wants to then refer me to a Nephrologist and consider Dialysis which, after reading some of the possible side effects, I’ve already ruled out as an option. I have also left the city to spend this time at my little fishing camp in the woods, a far healthier environment and much less stressful.
We talk about death all of the time in the grief community. I have written about God’s Blessed Hope in my Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’, as well as, in numerous articles since it was published. This, however, is different; this is when the ‘rubber meets the road’. I find myself staring the real possibility of my own death squarely in the face. Who will win this fight remains the unknown. I have also learned what has to be the loneliest moment one can experience, at least for myself. It is that moment when I am asked at every doctor’s or medical facility: “Do you have a contact number?”…and for that moment, I can’t think of one to give them. God’s number is unlisted.
I refer to this as ‘where the rubber meets the road’ because this, I am finding, is the ultimate test of all I have ever believed, shared, preached, and witnessed to throughout my life. I am having to take an in depth personal inventory in order to put my house in order. Most of the practical matters I had addressed after my son’s demise. I already purchased a plot next to his and all of the costs of final arrangements that are basic have been paid. The legal paperwork has also been previously accomplished. So, with such matters out of the way, it really comes down to ‘me’, and ‘am I ready’? So often we, Bereaved Parents, speak of how we want to leave this earth and be reunited with our children. We look forward to that glorious day; our heart aches for that day. That day for me has possibly arrived. I say possibly because one never knows when God may intervene. If He doesn’t, and if my little experiment is unsuccessful, the possibility then becomes a reality. Time will tell. While I wait, I am using the time to enjoy all the beautiful things God has created. The birds and all of their different personalities make me smile. The blue-jays are the bullies, the finches are such gentle unaggressive ones, the woodpeckers seem to be the least ‘brightest tools in the shed’, the hummingbirds are delightful but very territorial, the phoebes are friendly, and the eagles are quite majestic which always bring me Hope and a renewed strength. Yes, things which often go unnoticed are predominant at the moment. The different colors of my beautiful irises bring delight and peace to my soul, as well. I find myself questioning: “Do I really want to leave this place just yet?”
In the process of that week in which I was first informed of this disease, other things occurred which have given me the assurance that God has not forsaken me. When I have a string of doctor appointments, I have gotten into the habit of staying at a small motel which is in close proximity of the facilities I have to visit. It gives me a reduced rate for being a patient. It also helps me to stay off line and to spend more ‘alone time’ with my Lord. I also always ask for the same room to which I have become accustomed to and with which I am comfortable. I don’t take my Bible because there is a Gideon’s Bible I go to for comfort in the drawer of the bedside table.
The first night, I was having a bit of a meltdown even before I received ‘the news’. So, I pulled the Bible out of the drawer and in it I discovered something another sojourner had left in the pages. I noticed a few verses circled, but didn’t read them at this time. Instead, I simply removed the article and placed a napkin at that page so I could return to it at a later time to read what had been circled. The article left by a sister in the Lord, who went by the name of ‘Aunt B’, is a little plastic woven flat object with a pocket. In it are three little pieces of paper and a plastic woven cross. One of the papers has a prayer to pray to invite Jesus into your heart. It asks the question: “How can I be certain I will go to Heaven when I die?” The second is ‘a prayer for guidance’. The third is a little poem titled: ‘The Cross in my Pocket’. I wept. I thanked God for Aunt B and her obedience to Him in leaving such a thing and prayed He would bless her abundantly. I was reminded of how Elijah felt so utterly alone as he hid in a cave and how God informed him of the 7,000 others who were out there refusing to take a knee to Baal. She had also drawn a little heart at the top of all three inserts and had written the word: ‘smile’ in each. I have always said since I was young: “Smile. Life’s too short not to”. At the end of the following day, I received the results of the lab work. I have placed Aunt B’s gift in my wallet.
The next day, I drove over to see a neighbor I had only spoken to briefly by phone a few weeks previously. When our children were young, we would always see one another at the school bus stop as we sent our children on their way for the day, and we would chat. We had never become ‘coffee clutchers’, yet we always had one another’s back if for some reason one of us could not make it to the bus stop to drive our children to drop them off or pick them up. It was simply an understanding we had with one another without discussion. Though our visit was somewhat brief as we stood in her driveway, some very monumental things occurred. She started talking about my Roddy. She had no hesitation in doing so as some do because of his demise. She talked about him with such ease as if he had never died. I cannot express how much this blessed my weary heart. She then spoke of her mom’s demise. She said that her Mom had been ‘out of it’ for some time and then one day she suddenly sat straight up in bed and proclaimed: “I can see Dad!” She then laid back down, once again ‘out of it’ and uncommunicable. Two or three days after that she peacefully passed away. My neighbor confidently and assuredly stated: “Oh, I believe!” There was nothing lackadaisical in her words. We hugged three times in that short visit and agreed with one another that we had both certainly ‘paid our dues’. I asked about her husband who had a stroke one year after my son’s demise. My friend was suddenly placed in the position in which she became the breadwinner of their household, raising her two boys essentially alone, and also becoming a caretaker for her husband who she now said is beginning to say some words after eighteen very long years of silence.
On my last night at the motel, I was reminded to pull out that Gideon Bible again in which I had marked that page with the placement of that napkin. It was obvious that this Bible is rarely read because of the newness and stiffness of the pages. I wanted to see what ‘Aunt B’ had circled. To my surprise, she had not circled anything…I had done so on a previous visit. I was feeling as if I had become pen pals with this sister in the Lord and we were secretly passing notes. She had opened the Bible to the one page in which I had circled a couple of verses. The odds of her finding that one page are too many to count. It was the passage in 2 Kings 20.
1 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ ”
2 Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
It then goes on to say:
4 And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ’ ”
Hezekiah then asks for a confirming sign from the Lord as a type of fleece before the Lord as Gideon, Abraham, and others had done. When I arrived at my camp, I went directly to my neighbor’s because they collect all of my mail for me in my absence. In the eighteen years I have known her, she has never mentioned my son whom she never met. Yet, this day she did. She asked about the origin of his name and she did it in such a way that it was as if she had known him. So, when no one ever mentions my son after these nineteen years except for his siblings from time to time, two dear ladies in just a couple of days had. Such does not go unnoticed by me.
I do not know what the results will be in a few months when I am re-tested. But, what I do know is that God is, and will be, with me every step of the way. What I do know is that this time of testing is causing me to take account of my life and place my house in order. I have attempted to contact a few people in order to make sure that, as far as possible, I am at peace with them. I have a new appreciation and gratefulness for God’s beautiful creation of life. I called a woman I have known for eighteen years who is dying of cancer. I was able to tell her that I thought she is a good person, and to tell her she has always been kind to me and thanked her for being so. I told her I hope she is at peace to which she calmly and assuredly stated: “I am.” I said to her that too often things go unsaid and they shouldn’t. I have also looked up what it is like to die of kidney disease when dialysis is not chosen as a viable option and though not pleasant, it is often followed by a few weeks in a coma before passing on. I also read that a person in such a coma state can still hear what is being said around them so I have asked my eldest, if it comes to this, to please read to me Scripture during such a time. There are far worse ways to go so I thanked the Lord if this is His chosen path for me to travel Home.
For those who feel led to do so, please keep me in your prayers. My love to all and my gratitude for all those who have walked alongside of me in this valley of grief. (((HUGS)))
(((HUGS))) Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
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Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))
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