In the weeks prior to Whitney's death--wow, that's sobering to type those words, "Whitney's death"-- we had attempted to set a date to have Luke dedicated at our church. However, Whit's deteriorating condition and our work schedules made that difficult. So, on Saturday we had a short bedside service with our Pastor Chris and his wife, Sister Karen. There were several family members present, as well.
I remember when we dedicated Whitney. In effect, we were giving our daughter back to God...as if she was not His anyway. It's a pretty big deal to dedicate your child to God's will...to His service. It's not just a tradition, it's a solemn offering of the most precious thing in your life. And when that child grows up and surrenders their soul to God, it becomes a covenant and we must be prepared for the conditions of that covenant whether they bring joy or sorrow...or both. But we take comfort in knowing the eternal results of that covenant. It was important to Whit and Patrick to dedicate Luke. It was necessary. It was one of the last things Whitney would be fully aware of, for just a few hours later her condition would worsen considerably.
During the night, her pain level would increase and a general discomfort set in. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Patrick stayed in close communication with the nurses and doctors as we tried to maintain a delicate and dangerous balance between controlling Whit's pain and hastening her death. He honored the vow "in sickness and in health" to the fullest extent possible. He was there to help attend to her every need. And some of those needs were very personal...very difficult. And I reserve the word "very" unless it is very necessary. I usually took the night shift as I wanted Ramona and Patrick well rested for Whitney's and the children's daily needs. It was a long night. Her pain leveled off at about 2 a.m. but I was fudging on the morphine to achieve that...waiting 50 minutes instead of an hour between doses.
Some minutes later, I noticed Whit's hands folded as she was in whispering prayer. I wanted to lean in and listen but felt I would be intruding on a private conversation. It was more like a quiet discussion with the only person who really mattered at that time...her Savior. I am careful to assign significance to dreams, but, at that moment I recalled a brief dream I had years ago. It seemed to last only seconds. I was standing before a mighty and blinding light. I somehow knew it was the essence of God. My wife, my children, my job, all things passed before me in a blurring moment. But none of them mattered...only the light mattered. Absolutely nothing else mattered. I know how that sounds but I think it is a glimpse into the power of the presence of God. Whitney was about to enter that presence. If you can wrap your head around that--if you can wrap your heart around that--your emotions spin around like the wheel of fortune. But if we can manage to take ourselves out of the equation and truly believe what we profess we hold to be true, then there is joy.