I met this couple in Colorado.
By Julian Schroer
Note: This is from an e-mail sent by Julian on June 12, 2006, concerning the death of his wife Sara.
Hello everyone. I have been thinking for a while about recording some things about my wife, especially in her last days here on earth, for a little while now. In thinking about it, I have realized that she would probably want me to share a few things, and that is why I am going to make this effort.
In the email I sent out just after her death, I touched very briefly on some of the events, but too briefly, I think, to give people an understanding of them from a distance.
First of all, there was a lot of hope for a healing from God that surrounded those last weeks. Sara had felt from the beginning that she was given a choice, between life and death, and she felt God was asking her to choose life. Amen. I don't feel in any way like God has let us down, though some things we asked for were not apparently manifest in the physical realm.
As her condition worsened, it began to weigh heavily on me to talk with her about the possibility of dying. I felt like we were walking a fine line, between "being of faith" and accepting what was happening and preparing for it. She was diagnosed terminal April 25, and died on May 17, and during that time things went badly for her health very quickly. She lost all strength. Parts of her were rail thin and other parts were swollen. In her last week, she had to be helped from bed, and came to the point where she could not hold her head up while I carried her. I tell you this to help you understand, and I cannot tell the half of it. It was sometimes shocking for people when they came to see her.
BUT throughout all this she was always kind and considerate of others. My mother observed how she would always make her small efforts to acknowledge others and make them feel comfortable.
I am struggling a bit for the words to capture the essence of who she was at this time, and I may be unable to do it entirely.
In her last week, she and I began to speak about her death. She was losing strength so fast that talking was often an effort, and we could only do so at select times. I became alert to the timing of things, so that we could say what was needed while she still could.
It was in my heart to help her with all of this and I wanted her to be able to talk through anything that was difficult for her. With this in mind, I asked her some questions about how she was feeling spiritually etc. I asked her "how do you feel about God, now that you have become so sick?"
She was quiet and then spoke, I had to put my ear by her mouth to hear her words: "I gave my life to Him, and I trust Him."
Wow. I could see then that there was not much "counseling" needed!
She had had a dream a couple of months before, in which she was being chased by some men, and was desperately looking for a way to escape them. In the dream, she could not find a way, and so, having no other choice, she turned and looked at one of the men. As she looked, some horns grew out of his head. She said, "are you the devil?", and the man, looking somewhat on the spot, said "well, yes". She felt suddenly unafraid, and said "get OUT of here!", and the man, no longer scary to her, turned and hightailed it away.
This dream was knocking around sort of uninterpreted for a while. I never thought the cancer was "the devil", and I knew the dream was significant, but knew not what it meant. One night, in the last week of her time here, I was lying in bed and it occurred to me that "the devil" was trying to frighten her and shake her and make her lose her trust and faith in her God, and when she recognized his devices, she sent him running! (I realized this interpretation after she was having lots of success with this). I hopped out of bed and told her the interpretation and she smiled and said "that's beautiful".
We talked, in the last days, about it being ok to just settle into the arms of Jesus, and not try to stay alive by your own efforts. If God would heal, He would do it of His own power, and she did not need to try with Him.
She was only getting sicker. I began to hope for her that she could go in the night. I would look over and hope that one time I would see that she had stopped breathing. That sounds strange to say, but these situations can bring these thoughts up, and I wanted the best for her. I could never have imagined what did happen, it was better than my imagination tends to be.
On the 15th, she began to seem "confused", is the only, but lacking, way I can describe it. She was talking with her mother and sister and I, and was asking us "OK, so, I'm dying, right? Is that right?" And she was behaving differently. I think the weight of her mortality was beginning to weigh on her that morning. We comforted her, and I told her that yes, it appears that you are dying, honey, and it may not be long now. (the hospice nurse had actually thought she might die the previous week).
In the early afternoon, she became very disturbed about it. She seemed to have some kind of panic, and felt unable to breathe. I came into the room (the nurse and her sister were already with her) and she was almost sitting up in bed kind of grabbing for me and saying "Help me, I can't breathe, help me, can you here me?" (that was very strange. I was right there and she was asking if I could here her. It was like she was in a fog or a cloud and was not sure if we could hear her). The nurse put morphine under her tongue to help her breathing relax and we all tried to calm her down. Her breathing got better right away. But Sara was troubled. We sat with her and listened as she kept repeating "I'm dying, I'm dying, I'm dying".
She was not always making sense, to me at least, and it seemed like her mortality was really crashing in on her. Everything she would say she would repeat three times, and she was continually dabbing at her mouth with a tissue. She reminded me of an elderly person suffering from senility at this point.
I do not remember everything, but I know at one point I thought "this might really not be good for me to see" (as far as my faith in God remaining) because things seemed so cruel and senseless, as my dear wife seemed to be coming undone in her death and no help was seen on the horizon. I considered very briefly leaving the room for my own sake but I put that thought away and stayed to help her.
She was like this for maybe more than 30 minutes.
And then her help came!
It was as if she had been passing through a deep fog, and could not see or understand any of it; and then as sure as a fog has an edge and an end to it, she passed out of it and into another world, which may be this world if we could see it, I know not.
But sure as day, she came out of that fog and all of a sudden lifted her hands and said "it's wonderful, wonderful, it's WONDERFUL!!"
Now this part will doubtless be the most difficult to describe. I have said that she had seemed like a senile elderly person; now she appeared to me as a six year old child. She was absolutely overcome with joy. She rejoiced and clapped her hands. She played little games like a child. We sang songs; "this little light of mine" and "spring up oh well". Her spirit was totally contagious, and caused me to rejoice along with her. She was completely lucid and said things such as "now I KNOW! now I UNDERSTAND! God is GOOD, He is so GOOD, we have to tell the world, the whole WORLD has to know!" (this is why I am writing this). We talked about our children and their births, and about our marriage, and she rejoiced over it all. All shadows were gone for her. She would talk about God and say "He's GREAT!" with a gigantic toothy grin. A little part of me was watching, to see if she would slip back into any confusion, and I want to tell you that the was NO CONFUSION left for her. Every moment, every word she spoke and every _expression and movement was total peace and joy. And so much LIFE in it all. It is impossible to record or even remember the entirety of it, and she continued with us like this for over an hour I think, and every movement spoke volumes as to her state of joy. Her mother and sister were there, as well as Tamima, Jeremiah's wife. They can tell you too.
Just on the physical level, what we saw was an absolute miracle, because I have said, she had been almost unable to speak more that a few words for days, and now she was a bubbling stream, and was gesturing with her arms as well.
After a while, her eyes began to grow heavy, and she went to sleep while I stroked her head.
She slept for the better part of 38 hours, and then she left the body behind her.
She did wake up and spend about 30 minutes with me at one point, which I will not go into much, except to say that she was happy and that I will remember that time forever, as long as my memory lasts.
She passed on at 5:30 a.m. on the 17th, with her mother and I holding her hands and commending her to God.
Sara, may you rest in perfect peace, I know you do. Thank you Jesus for my wife.