Amid the humming and buzzing of the skilled nursing facility where my mother lay ill, I sat with one of the most important quiet decisions I will ever have to make. I held my mother’s life at the end of a pen. On the form I needed to sign, I could require my mother to receive what’s known as a “full code” where all life-saving measures are employed to keep her alive, or I could ask for a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). The DNR would allow for comfort measures as she passed away naturally.
If you ask Larry, he’ll tell you this is a typical situation. He sees it all the time as an ICU pharmacist. If you ask me, I would tell you that no child should be put in the position of making the decision where the life of their parent hangs in the balance.
In the middle of this quiet crisis, I had three things on my side. I had talked to my sister and my mom’s life partner, and we were in agreement, which is more important than I can express. The other things I had going for me was that I know my mom, and I know my faith. Every decision I made was first placed before God. These realities made it possible for me to grasp the meaning of what stood before me and choose what was best–but far from easy.
Each us has to face all kinds of quiet decisions. How well we know ourselves, our God, and each other are the things that can help us through those crucial and often devastating moments.
In the end, I signed the DNR.
After I signed the form, I wept. I cried over what I had just done. I cried because I knew the hard labor of dying would come next. I cried over the losses my mom and I had already sustained and the losses that were yet to come. Then, I made one more quiet decision. I dried my eyes, went back into her room and held her hand.