Memaw and I love to have sleepovers together. Usually, they are in her comfortable king sized bed at her home in Hamlet, NC. We stay up late talking, giggling and reading our Bibles together before we drift off to sleep.
Tonight, our sleepover looks a little different. Machines are beeping and nurses are coming in and out as I sit with Memaw in the ICU room of the hospital in the wee hours of the night. She has tubes in her mouth which are providing her with oxygen and food. She’s been here for days, drifting in and out of consciousness as her family waits by her side.
I flew in from Hawaii after hearing of her condition. I’ve been with her ever since. I don’t want to take my eyes off of her and want to savor every moment.
Due to the tubes, Memaw is unable to speak, but she tries to communicate with us by scribbling on a piece of paper and pointing to pictures. I know she’s still the sweet Memaw I’ve always known because I can see that same smile in her eyes. A smile that’s full of love and compassion. Even though she can’t talk, she squeezes my hand and winks at me to let me know that she loves me.
Each morning, I read to her from one of her favorite devotional books. She gave me the same book a couple years ago, so every day, I find comfort in knowing that Memaw and I are doing the same quiet time. The scriptures for this week could not have been any more relevant. As we read today’s devotion, it said, “Do not be afraid. Trust in me.” A single tear slid down Memaw’s cheek as she looked at me and nodded as if she was saying “I trust Him…I won’t be afraid.”
She has always been a spiritual mentor to me. But sitting here in the despair of a hospital room, I am overwhelmed by her strength and faith. Her 83 year old body chooses to praise Him even when her flesh and her heart is failing. What an inspiration she is to me.
Today is the day we have all been waiting for…the day Memaw got to come off of the ventilator! I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved in my life. She coughed for a while and then whispered, “Can I talk now?” We all cheered as she uttered those words.
For four long days she had been unable to communicate verbally and had been bound to her hospital bed. The nurses raved and raved about what a good patient she had been, commenting on how calm and cooperative she had been. Memaw’s response was, “Well, I like to cooperate with everyone. It’s only God’s strength in me.” Never once did she complain or resist their instructions.
Her first meal consisted of jello, chicken broth and a cherry popsicle. Memaw reached out her hands to those of us gathered around and said, “Shall we pray?” She went on to say one of the most beautiful, heart-felt prayers I’ve ever heard. She praised Jesus for his grace and mercy and for using this difficult time to draw us closer to him.
This week has been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I faced fear and anxiety every day, not knowing what was wrong with Memaw or what the outcome would be. I got very little sleep, and the times I did sleep I woke up with tears on my face. But what a blessing it has been to witness this part of the Brunson family’s journey.
God used this difficulty to draw our family together. I was reunited with cousins I hadn’t seen in years. My brothers, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins came together to care for Memaw- the matriarch of our family and an inspiration to us all. We prayed together. We gathered around Memaw’s bed and sang worship songs straight from our hearts- crying out to God to have mercy on our beloved Charlotte Brunson.
He heard our prayers and blessed us with more time with her. She is still very weak, and probably will be for some time as she goes through rehab and physical therapy. It’s still hard to see her struggle to do the things that used to come so naturally to her. But she is a fighter and she’s determined to get better.
This morning we laughed as she struggled to eat jello for breakfast. It kept sliding off of her spoon and onto her lap. She shrugged and said, “I’m just like a baby!” Our devotion this morning was yet again perfect. It came from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Our favorite nurse Terry (who has been such an encouragement to all of us) listened in and shouted an Amen!
“Give thanks in all things…”Memaw repeated with a smile.
“We have a lot to be thankful for today, don’t we Memaw?” I said.
“We sure do,” she said as she put her hand on my face.
And we will continue to give thanks. No matter what lays ahead, we will give thanks for every day, every moment, that He gives us with Memaw. Her life continues to radiate with the sweetness of the Lord. She has touched countless lives- even in the hospital, she is impacting lives with her peaceful and patient demeanor. Her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren have been deeply impacted by the legacy Memaw and Granddaddy have passed down to us. May we be faithful to continue their legacy.