This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.From this point forward, I’m going to be sharing the text of posts as they were written at the time. Some will come from this blog; others, from our CaringBridge site. I may from time to time write my own reflections after re-reading, but mostly I will just be sharing words as they were written. So much of this journey for me is revisiting what happened, and realizing just how difficult the journey was for us. And now, seeing how far we’ve come since that time.

Looks like I actually got ahead of the calendar, so we are back to one post per day. I will still be combining posts from a few days, especially since towards the end of Samantha’s life, the posts got shorter. We spent more time focusing on being present with her. In addition, as she slipped away, there was less and less to share with friends and family. We are headed into the final weeks now.

My CaringBridge entry, written on June 29, 2011:

Just a quick update tonight since I’m tired and it’s late. Sammy is still with us, but is getting weaker each day. Her breathing is much more difficult and labored. Tonight we had some time again as a family, and threw Sammy’s other godparents into the mix. We’re having another whole family sleepover, so Aunt Allison will sit up holding Sammy until her next medicine time.

Other than that, keep our nurse Heather in your prayers. Her grandfather (who was also on hospice) died today. So she will be stopping by tomorrow on her way to be with family, and then will not be available for the rest of the weekend. We’re hoping she can be there with us when Sammy goes but we realize that the timing now will probably mean she can’t be. Meanwhile we continue to keep our vigil, waiting for Jesus to take our daughter home to heaven.

CaringBridge entry from June 30, written by Travis:

One of the songs of the church I have come to love comes to us from the Taize community.  It goes like this, “O Lord hear my prayer.  O Lord hear my prayer.  When I call, answer me.  O Lord hear my prayer.  O Lord hear my prayer.  Come and listen to me.”  Which then leads me to this Psalm:

Psalm 130    A song of ascents. 1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
2 O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Steph and I have been waiting, watching, praying.  As Samantha’s days get harder and harder, so too do our days.  But in a different way.  It is hard to watch a person you love dying.  Hard.  When her chest rattles from the fluid; when she coughs and whimpers from the pain; as her respirations get slower and slower and sometimes pausing her breaths in apnea for moments up to 30 seconds, it is hard.  Our prayers ascend, “Come Lord Jesus, and rescue your servant Samantha!  Come and bring her the healing of heaven.  Come and take her to where there is no more tears, or pain, or sin, or hardship.  Come, and bring her into your everlasting Kingdom, O Lord, our God!  Come!”

And in the midst of these trials, waiting, the song and the Psalm come into our hearts and minds.  And suddenly we are filled with hope!  Hope?  Yes, because the Lord is good.  All the time.  Because the Lord has forgiven us and made us a new creation.  Because the Lord Jesus has come into our world, taken on our punishment on His cross, rose from the grave to seal His promise and victory over sin, death, and the devil.  And then He ascended into heaven where He prepares even now a place for us to be with Him forever!  He sends us His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in His Word and the blessings and grace of His Sacrament!

And through this hope, because of this certain hope we wait….more than watchmen for the morning.  We wait with great excitement and anticipation for the Lord’s victory eternal for our Sammy and for the day we too will receive the crown of life.  That hope will never fail, fade, or spoil.  Our hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ who has given us, Sammy, Jonah, you and me the everlasting, glorious victory in His death and resurrection.  Christ is risen.  Alleluia!  “O Lord, hear our prayer and come quickly!”

July 1, 2011 CaringBridge (written by Travis):

Samantha had a very rough day today.  Her kidneys are beginning to shut down, with less and less wet diaper changes.  Her breathing is very, very slow, shallow, and strained.  Her lungs are filling with more and more fluid  causing her so much trouble in her breathing.  She is pretty much falling into a coma…. We know the end is very near.

The end?  I’ve been thinking about that a lot today.  Steph and I got to spend some time holding Sammy in bed together this afternoon while she napped and I basked in daddy daughter cuddle time! While I was holding Sammy I was thinking about her end, and how close she is.  And then suddenly, I realized, the end?

I am very blessed to have a wonderful spiritual director, and older, wiser, Catholic women who spends a lot of time working at a convent where I meet with her.  She helps me much to grow in my faith journey, prayer life, and study of God’s Word.  Once we were talking about eternity.  She said that when she was young she asked her mom one day, “how long is forever?”  after coming home from church and praying the Lord’s prayer.  Her mother said, “Think about it.”  A little while later she came back to her mom and said, “Mom, I  could say forever, forever, and that would just be the very beginning.”  How true!  That is our forever, our eternity in Jesus.

As this thought came into my mind a peace and joy flooded my heart as I looked at Sammy, on my chest, sleeping, cuddling, and realized that her eternity in Jesus as a Baptized child of God, redeemed in Jesus Christ the Risen Savior, was not an end but a new, true, beautiful beginning.  Later, when one of my nieces tonight asked me if Sammy would be better in Heaven, would Jesus help her, I said with a great smile, a confidence in my heart, and a faith that only comes from Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, YES!  A resounding YES!  Because true life, perfect life, eternal, forever life begins when our eyes shut in this world and we wake to see the face of Jesus as He welcomes us with His crown of life and our mansion in Heaven.

Perspective, sometimes it is easy to fall into a perspective of this world.  Sammy is coming to an end: an end of sickness, trials, pains, etc… But she is coming to a forever that our human words and perspective cannot put into words or even imagine!  Once again our prayer is come Lord Jesus!  Have mercy on our Sammy, and bring her to her Heavenly home with you!  Amen and amen.

Next post coming tomorrow.