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Jun 01, 2022 292 Mary Therese Emmons, USA
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Going Home

“The world is thy ship, not thy home” is a famous quote by Saint Therese of Lisieux. In fact we are all on a journey to our final destination…

As a child, my mother once assured me that God only takes a soul home when it is most ready. This was such a comforting thought to me that I tucked it away in my heart, clinging tightly to it for consolation when the loss of loved ones occurred throughout my life. The most wondrous example I witnessed of this encouraging statement was that of my dear husband in the final days of his life.

Beginning of the End

Chris had been battling brain cancer for over three years—a horrific disease in which he was only expected to live a year, with continuous, nearly insufferable treatment. It was a joyful and painful three year journey—full of hopeful highs and an equal number of devastating lows. When Chris’ cancer began spreading with no hope of containment, and having exhausted all options, Chris made the heart-wrenching decision to discontinue treatment and enjoy the time he had left, leaving it all in God’s hands. This decision marked the beginning of the end. The heartache I felt at the thought of losing him after such a courageous battle we were hopeful he could continue to fight was nearly beyond what I could bear. I placed Chris on hospice with a vow to him that our children and I would honor his one wish and care for him at home until the end.

Terrified at the thought of such an enormous undertaking of which I had no training or experience to do, I put my full faith in God, pleading for His mercy and guidance. The downpour of heavenly graces and blessings which we received by this desperate petition would see our family through Chris’ final weeks.

 Louder than a Whisper

With the discontinuation of treatment, Chris’ precious brain began to suffer the effects of the rapidly spreading disease. Slight memory loss turned into considerable memory loss, and then the seizures began—all within a few weeks. One evening, with little warning, Chris suffered a grand mal seizure. After seating himself on the sofa following a focal seizure, my children and I gathered around as we sensed something was wrong. I took his hand in mine, and as I did, I felt his entire body begin to stiffen. His dark brown eyes rolled back in his head and he began shaking uncontrollably—he then let out a loud cry of pain.

In a state of disbelief and terror at what we were witnessing, I attempted to calm my children and seek strength and divine assistance for my husband in the only way I knew how—prayer. As I held my Chris, I softly lead our children through the Lord’s Prayer—following it with a prayer to Our Lady, whom he was so devoted to. A few moments later Chris’ seizure began to subside. He lay there, motionless, unable to see the terrified, tear stained faces surrounding him. When he opened his eyes after fully regaining consciousness, he began to scan his surroundings with a look of confusion. His eyes met mine and I gently assured him that he was fine—and immediately sought to find out what he wanted from us in that moment for assistance.

Barely able to communicate, and in nothing louder than a whisper, Chris replied with the words, “I…want…God.” It was at that very moment, I knew. I knew God was preparing him, and I knew my faith-filled husband was longing for home—his eternal life. Although devastated over the realization that his end was drawing near, I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude for this precious grace of acceptance. Chris was no longer burdened with the agonizing thought of leaving his family behind in this world. He had been unbound from that cross and given an immeasurable gift of peace as well as a deeper comprehension of what splendor the next life holds. My precious, faithful husband was ready. The following weekend, while peacefully resting in bed and surrounded by family as we softly prayed the Rosary, our beloved Chris passed away. It was the Lord’s Day, and Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. And this beautiful soul was most ready.

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Mary Therese Emmons

Mary Therese Emmons is a busy mother of four teenagers. She has spent more than 25 years as a catechist at her local parish, teaching the Catholic faith to young children. She lives with her family in Montana, USA.

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