by Robin Magraw
We lost our Mom and our Dad lost his wife, his only love he had known, they were high school sweethearts, and our kids lost their Grandmother. She got Lyme disease and the infection went into her brain as it can do, as the Lyme organisms burrow deep into fatty tissue, i.e. brain, heart, muscle, and into joints. Mom went from being a youthful, active, always on the go, always-positive person to eventually being so weak she was unable to walk, talk, or feed herself. I was there by my parent's side through the whole experience and watched as this experience nearly killed Dad. It tore him to his inner being... she was his best friend, his soul mate, the love of his life. Mom was my friend, one of the only people in the world I could tell anything to besides my husband, yet she was the only person I can honestly say loved me unconditionally, no matter what I did, she loved me... that is what Moms do.
My life was very easy-going, no major disastrous things happened for the first 40 years. I was complacent in my harmonious life. In the blink of an eye, all that changed… My journey of despair began when our oldest daughter was sexually assaulted at a graduation party nine years ago; this experience nearly shattered our daughter’s life and our lives too. Our daughter was drawn to Jesus shortly after that happened but the journey had just begun. After several years of suffering depression, anxiety, and fear, she was able to overcome this devastating, life-changing experience and she found Jesus, Jesus found her, He saved her. He stayed with her through the whole process and she finally realized that He was always there, she just did not see Him, she does now, thank you God! …This experience was very difficult for our family, at times, the entire experience was overwhelming, and I did not think we could survive. In hindsight, my own battle with depression was intensified at that point…
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (New International Version)
This same summer Mom was starting to experience dementia-like symptoms from the Lyme disease in her brain…Mom’s condition kept deteriorating; the Doctors did not know what had happened, or what was wrong with her. After much research on the Internet, my search kept coming back to Lyme disease. Doctors in the United States do not want to acknowledge Lyme disease because of the expensive treatment costs when it gets to the late chronic stage, so we had to travel to Vancouver, Canada to meet with a Lyme disease specialist. He interviewed Mom and Dad and did DNA testing … he called us a couple of weeks later and was very concerned; he told us she had late stage chronic Lyme disease. We then went to several doctors around the United States and tried several treatments, even hyperbaric chambers and IV drug treatments for the best part of three years, all to no avail. One day in late February 2006, Mom stopped breathing in the living room of their home. When the medics got there, they could not get her to start breathing again, on the way to the hospital, they resuscitated her, anyway it was too late, and she was brain dead, only being kept alive by machines.
Shortly after that, we had to make the unthinkable decision to take Mom off life support, as there was little to no brain activity left and those were her instructions should that ever happen. Our oldest daughter Chelsea and our son Ryan were away at college at the same university. My husband had to travel to pick them up as they were a six-hour drive away and we did not want to tell them over the phone. That left Maddie, our youngest daughter, Dad and me. Maddie was only thirteen at the time, and really close to her Gammy, my Mom, and this nearly devastated her. We did not want her or any of our kids to be in the room as we unplugged life support from Mom, so that left Dad and me in the room during those final moments. It was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, to watch Mom take her last breaths as my Dad was sitting there holding her and crying, telling her it was okay to go home to Jesus now, reading the Bible to her, Dad told her we will all see her again and we will all be alright. We watched her slowly stop breathing, finally her respiration slowed until it just stopped, and even then Dad held her, arranged her hair, brushed her hair and I held her hand. We sat there for a timeless period and cried, until the nurses came in and hugged us and told us it was time to leave the room. I have never discussed this moment with anyone before, as it was so painful, I can barely think about it, as I re-experience it all over again. It nearly killed Dad, we kissed Mom, held her one last time, we had to leave her, seeing and holding her for the last time on this earth. It was heart wrenching and I would not ever want anyone to experience this, it changed me, it changed Dad, it changed our entire family, and life will never be the same again. Yet, slowly and surely God intervenes, at just the right moment He lifts the veil and you see that through Jesus, you can experience peace and hope again. It is not the same, it will never be the same, but there is peace, hope and a future! …
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (English Standard Version)
After that experience, Maddie our youngest daughter was really sick, migraines all the time, anxiety, loss of being able to concentrate or focus due to depression and anxiety. She started taking pills unbeknown to us out of the medicine cabinet, she took some muscle relaxers, painkillers, she overdosed twice by taking 2 complete bottles of cough medicine at one time, she had to eat charcoal to clean her stomach out! She survived both experiences only to overdose one more time, this time on Ambian. She took almost a whole bottle, not to commit suicide, just to get sleep she said, as she was now suffering from insomnia too, sleeping only 3 to 6 hours every 2 to 3 days… After several trips to the psychiatrist, they diagnosed depression, anxiety, and ADHD. They gave her almost every medication you can think of, only causing the symptoms to worsen. Now she had chronic insomnia.
During this whole entire period of time, I lived life on a precipice of fear, I thought I was a Christian because I went to church, I prayed, I read the Holy Bible, but in hindsight I did not really know Jesus yet! I lived moment-to-moment waiting for the next emergency or bad thing to happen. I lived in a world of anxiety and fear, and I was a numb walking zombie. Now I realize none of us really knew Jesus, Mom did but she had passed on, and as she had been the one person in our family that did have a living relationship with Jesus, none of us understood what that meant at the time… After a couple of years or so of just living life in utter depression, worry, stress, and a lack of peace in our family, Maddie met her second boyfriend. He was great at first, then after a year of them dating, he changed, and behind closed doors, he would beat her. He would hit her in the arms and legs where we could not see the bruises, and verbally abuse her in order to control her. He was a sociopath, charming on the outside, a devil on the inside. I saw her legs one day and her back and they were covered with bruises, she finally told me what happened and we went straight to the police. He was arrested for domestic violence and put in jail, went to trial, plead guilty, and served only 20 days of a 365-day sentence. (She has posted this before as her testimony so she will not mind me telling you this.) This occurrence was finally, what brought our youngest daughter Maddie to Jesus. He came to her room one evening, He spoke to her as she rested in her loft bed, in an audible voice He called out to her and told her she needed to get to know Him, she went straight to her Bible and started reading it, and ever since then she has not put it down! She stopped taking her anti-depressants, she stopped taking her Adderal, her anxiety improved, her insomnia improved. He is her Savior, He is my Savior, and He is everyone’s Savior! Thank you LORD! …
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8 (English Standard Version)
Throughout this entire journey, the LORD was transforming me, I did not even realize it until in the depth of my despair, in a quiet moment, I found Jesus, or He found me. The Holy Spirit found me, He found all of us! Our family was nearly obliterated by the pain we had experienced. I had suffered right along with my Mom and Dad, and with our two daughters. As I think back, I was nearly lost in all of this but Jesus had me all along. When I watched my Mom take her last breath as my Father held her in his arms, something stirred deep inside of me, and at that great moment of despair, I started to transform from the inside out, I heard His call but it was a faint whisper and I was not ready to surrender to Him yet. I watched as Dad was nearly devastated by the loss of his soul mate, Mom. I suffered along through the aftermath of our oldest daughter being sexually assaulted by a boyfriend and experienced the turmoil of our youngest daughter’s addiction and trauma after being abused by her ex-boyfriend.
Our daughters both suffered great bouts of depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, as did I. Our youngest daughter tried to fill her emptiness with prescription drugs, nearly overdosing not once but three times to the point of going to the hospital in an ambulance in near life threatening episodes. Her abusive boyfriend had threatened her, our family; he even bought a gun, a crossbow and threatened to hurt her or us if she ever left him. Yet, during much of this time, I was leaning on my own understanding to get me through, instead of relying on God! I wish I knew then what I know now, but God had a plan, His ways are not our ways…
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-8 (English Standard Version) …
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9 (English Standard Version)
That all said, I know that God has a purpose in everything He does... this journey was the catalyst that caused me to turn to the LORD, my family and my Dad too! It was a process, and lots of bad things happened but I only grew in my faith, my love, my adoration of the LORD... though our family was nearly destroyed, in the end it was saved, literally saved for all of eternity! I do not understand why God allowed Mom to die young and after great suffering or why He would allow our daughters to be assaulted and abused by their boyfriends. I only know that because of these events, our family was drawn to God, He called out to us… He comforts us... He provides a peace that surpasses all understanding in our hearts and minds through our LORD Jesus Christ. Amen!
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:7 (English Standard Version) …
God is the reason we survived this whole ordeal, He is the reason we have all become stronger, He is the reason we have grown to love Jesus, the reason we have all started a living relationship with Jesus Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit... without Him our lives would have been obliterated! God brought us through it all ... without Him we would have lost it all ... instead, we found it all, we found Him!
Dad remarried on December 29 of last year. Donna his new wife had a similar experience, she lost her husband of 40 years to cancer, and in less than 6 months from his diagnosis, he was gone. They both realize and know they are not the love of each other's life, they already found and lost that, but they do love each other, and they do have a happy marriage... It is difficult to move forward without Mom, and the kids without their Gammy, but we all want Dad, their Gumps to be happy! He is youthful and so much life left, we are happy he will not spend it alone. Dad and Donna are in Bible study, they are both studying God’s Word, and finally, I can say that Dad is getting to know Jesus! It is so amazing to see Maddie share the Good News of Jesus with her Gumps!
Maddie triumphed over all her days of illness, addiction, insomnia, anxiety, and physical abuse from her ex-boyfriend. Maddie recently graduated with above a 3.2 cumulative GPA and eventually wants to become a Christian counselor... or to work with elderly people who want to learn about Jesus! God works in mysterious ways but He always has a plan, He knew of our lives before the world was even created!
"No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began." ~ 1 Corinthians 2:7 (New Living Translation)
All said and done, after all the pain, all the suffering, and trials, God has drawn our family closer to Himself. The Holy Spirit reveals amazing new things to me everyday; things that I did not realize were possible just the day before. Though life will not ever be the same again, when we meet Mom in Heaven, it will be an amazingly happy and joyous occasion and we will be together for eternity. Our relationships will not be the same, but it will be good! God will be there to guide us… who knows, our relationships in heaven, I think, promise to be even better than our relationships here, for the very fact that there will be no pain, sorrow, remorse, grieving, fear, and anxiety. There will only the positive aspects of our relationships, companionship, warmth, happiness, support, love, I am sure there will be lots of love in Heaven, God is love… we will finally see Jesus face-to-face, oh glorious day! Thank you Jesus for all that you do for us, because of You our family will be together for eternity!
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ~ Psalm 16:11 (English Standard Version)
"But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9 (English Standard Version)
© 2011 All Rights Remain with the Author, Robin Magraw
We are Wonderfully Made (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wonderfully-Made/130178720330362), living to encourage and Equip His People (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Equip-His-People-Ephesians-411-13/170487976325407) and completely committed to believing greatly Psalm 139 with purpose (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Psalm-139-with-purpose/183264461708034).