Still Unshaken

So many thoughts. It’s hard to know where to begin.

Corey spent all day Sunday breathing on his own. Darryl, our night Respiratory Therapist switched him from breathing on his own back over to the machine about midnight, not because he necessarily needed it, but because he wanted him to have a restful night knowing we were going to try more waking trials Monday morning. We both slept well Sunday night and I was anxious for what Monday would bring.

When Megan, one of our amazing nurses who has worked a lot with Corey over the past two weeks, and Crystal, our amazing Respiratory Therapist switched Corey back over to breathing on his own Monday morning, they noticed right away that something wasn’t right. They ordered some tests and started looking into whether there were any neurological reasons he hadn’t been waking on his own, despite being off all sedatives for 48 hours now. Valerie, the nursing supervisor and one more member of this amazing care team I’ve come to love and appreciate deeply, had cautioned me, as had other members of his care team, that Corey had been on very heavy sedatives for a prolonged period of time and there was always a chance that there could be some kind of neurological impact. They continued running tests all day Monday and into Tuesday morning, doing everything from MRIs and CT scans to a lumbar puncture so they could collect and inspect his spinal fluid. In the midst of all these tests they discovered that Corey had a partially collapsed lung so they had to insert a chest tube to keep his lung inflated. By 2 AM Tuesday when they finished working on him I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally, physically, and I was so very sad for what his poor body had been through. It was about 2:30 AM when I dozed off and I woke up about 6:30 AM to hushed voices preparing to shift from the night team to the day team.

Tuesday morning brought more tests, including a visit from Dr. Singh, a specialist in vascular neurology and, in particular, a stroke specialist. He was a very kind man, brilliant, obviously, but also with great bedside manner. He explained some of their concerns and said he would let me know his findings when he was able to review all the tests and get a better sense of Corey’s overall picture. Dr. Singh and several other members of Corey’s care team found me late Tuesday afternoon to share what they’d learned.

The review of Corey’s tests results, and in particular the MRI, showed that Corey had had several massive strokes over the past handful of days that had not just traveled into the brain and damaged one area in particular, but had “showered” into his brain, affecting all areas of the brain, from the top to the base, and all over both sides. They also believed these strokes were toxic, meaning that infection had entered his brain as well. In short, the multiple massive strokes had caused irreversible, permanent neurological damage and there was little to no neurological function left. And, with Corey’s neurological standing, chemotherapy was no longer an option for treating his cancer. So at this point, any efforts they were making to help Corey were now standing in the way of the natural progression of the end of life.

The funny, independent, jokester, hard-working, vibrant Corey Grant we’ve known and loved was no longer with us. What was left was a broken shell at the end of his medical road and the right thing to do was to remove all current treatment and let nature take its course.

I asked his parents and his brother and sister-in-law who are local to meet me at the hospital that evening so I could share the news with them, and asked his other brother to come from Coeur d’Alene that night. We planned a family meeting for Wednesday morning so the whole medical and care team, including a palliative care physician and chaplain, could share with the family Corey’s medical outlook and the options we were facing. I knew in that meeting we’d have to make the hardest decision of our lives.

The meeting lasted nearly two hours and the care team was great, walking us through the MRI in detail and answering all of our very hard questions. We cried, we laughed (this was Corey we were talking about, after all) and we made the united decision to remove all the medical devices and place Corey’s care in the hands of our Savior. If the Lord wanted to raise Corey up and perform one incredible miracle, He could. But if He chose to take Corey home, then that was a decision that was firmly out of our hands and we would accept whatever He chose to do.

Faith is not about hoping for what you want and accepting the outcome as long as it’s what you’ve hoped for. It’s about believing in God’s sovereignty and accepting that His purposes are higher and greater than ours, even when things don’t go our way.

The single hardest moment of my life was delivering this news to the kids. We sat in a crumpled heap on the living room floor and cried our eyes out. We wailed, we wept silently and everything in between. I answered the hardest questions I will ever answer in my life and I swore to them that I would spend every moment for the rest of my life making sure they had the best life possible. That even if we were one short we were still a family and that we would have the very best guardian angel ever if the Lord chose to take their dad to Heaven. I explained to them that this is why it was so very important to walk with Jesus every day, because life in this body is fragile and you never know when your time is going to be up. God alone knows the number of our days. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” God, the Creator of the universe, knew Dad, and Dad knew God, and God alone knew how long their dad would be with us on this Earth. He knew that Corey would be my husband and their dad and that we would be a family. I also told that them God knew that we would be strong enough to face whatever this life would look like without Corey if He chose to take him home, so now it was our turn to “be strong and courageous” and do our very best to spend the rest of our lives making both God and Corey proud. We cried some more and eventually Abbie said, “I want you to stay here with us, but I think you need to go back to the hospital in case Dad needs you.” It was such a kind-hearted gesture and so typical for this girl who loves her daddy. I stayed with them at the house until they were tucked into bed and the tears had subsided and then I went back to the hospital to spend one more night with my husband.

Corey’s family arrived a little bit before the meeting Wednesday morning and had an opportunity to cry together and pray at his bedside. After the family meeting they had a few hours with him to grieve, say their goodbyes and spend some time praying, laughing and reliving stories. I gave them a lot of space that day and mostly stayed out of the room. I’ve lost a brother and my parents have lost a son so we knew what they were going through and it broke our hearts. My dad and sister had come from California and my mom had brought the kids from home and we tried to offer the support we knew they needed and give them the space that we knew was important. Our families have a great relationship so we all wandered in and out of Corey’s room and sat in the ICU lobby together, laughing, crying, praying and telling stories. Pastor Rob came by the hospital several times, offering support and guidance and being a strong support for us all.

My mom brought the kids to the hospital early that afternoon so they could have some time with their dad and say their goodbyes. It was the worst moment in a series of worst moments we’d walked through together over the past 12 hours. Abbie wailed and Jayden cried silently, and they kept saying, “I love you Daddy, you’re the best Daddy in the history of the world” over and over. Pastor Rob came in and hugged and cried with them and we prayed and cried some more. The last words their dad spoke to them out loud were when he was on the gurney being taken for a procedure 14 days before. We’d prayed together in his hospital room and as he was being wheeled away he said, “I love you guys, see you later.” Now, in his ICU room, saying goodbye, Abbie cried that it was going to be “a really, really long time” until she got to see her dad again. We all agreed that when Dad did take his last breath, it would likely be very peaceful but that this right here was pretty much the worst moment of our whole lives.

Jayden said his goodbyes, telling his dad that he knew he would see him again in Heaven and that next time he saw him there would be no breathing tubes or IVs, that there would be no cancer in his body and that he would be totally whole. It was beautiful and sure and heart-wrenching. Abbie wanted to stay a little while longer, crying and telling him over and over how much she loved him. There are just no pieces of my heart left that aren’t completely shattered.

Abbie

As Abbie and I were leaving Corey’s ICU room to go out and visit with the family in the waiting room, one of the amazing nurses who has taken such good care of Corey told us to go look out the big windows at the end of the hall. There, bright as could be, was a double rainbow. What a gift. I told Abbie that was God’s way of telling us that He and Dad would always be with us, that there was one for her and one for Jayden and that every single time we saw a rainbow for the rest of our lives we would know they were both watching over us.

double-rainbows-1200x800

Even in the midst of the worst grief imaginable, God is a good, sweet, caring God who takes the time to show us He sees us and is with us.

Corey’s parents came back in to say goodbye and his mom prayed the most heart-wrenching prayer any mother could ever pray. She prayed for a miracle and told the Lord that she “was laying Corey gently in His loving arms,” believing He would do what He saw fit with her son. If there were any unbroken pieces of my heart left, they broke then.

Eventually everyone left to go home and I was again alone with my husband of nearly 14 years. My sister stayed with me and was so sweet and strong and brave to walk with me through what was going to be the most awful night of my life. Darryl, the night Respiratory Therapist and Cecillia, the night nurse, removed Corey’s breathing tube and unhooked all of his IVs so we could let nature take over. It was 9:11 PM.

Corey took his last breath at 6:11 AM on Thursday, April 19th, 2018, just as the sun was coming up. A couple seconds after the line went flat and the monitor read 0, Corey gasped in one last breath of air, like one would when they were seeing a big surprise. His eyes opened partially and I said to my sister, “He has just seen the face of His Savior and Redeemer and has just seen Heaven for the first time.” I’d give almost anything to have seen what he was seeing at that moment.

After spending some time alone with him, I said my goodbyes and headed home. Broken. I waited for the kids to wake up and prayed for the strength to deliver the news to them. Jayden woke up first and came downstairs, where I was sitting in front of the fire on the floor. My dad and mom and sister were there and we were all praying for those precious kids. Jayden came and sat with me and we said our good mornings and, after a few quiet moments, he said, “Dad’s in Heaven now, isn’t he, Mom?” I said yes and he said, “Yeah, I knew it last night.” It was peaceful and reserved and intimate. We all talked and had a special time together.

I heard Abbie stirring about half an hour later and I went up to her room. She said, “Good morning, Mommy” and I snuggled up next to her in bed. After a quiet, snuggly moment, she said, “Dad’s in Heaven now, isn’t he, Mom?” just like Jayden had. I said yes, he was, and she said, “Yeah, I know.” Again, it was peaceful and intimate and so full of the grace of God. I was surprised at how these two moments had gone, and grateful beyond measure that the Holy Spirit had visited and prepared these kids during the night for what they would wake up to.

Today was a new day, the sun was shining, which I told them was Daddy’s first gift to us from Heaven, and we were taking the very first steps down a new and uncharted road, but we were taking them together, as a family. Our family looked different than it did the day before, but we were still a family, we were still unshaken and we were going to make it.

And we are.

27 thoughts on “Still Unshaken

  1. Oh, Mindy, you have so beautifully conveyed the worst moments of your life and the lives of your children. These are the first steps of a long and painful journey, but, yes, you are going to make it snd will remain Undhaken. I love you all so much.

    Like

  2. You are an example of what it truly means to have our Heavenly Father guide a home. I know this difficult. We could continue to pray for comfort and peace.

    Like

  3. So beautiful, Mindy! My heart breaks for you guys. But amidst the tears falling I am smiling because I know our Lord is holding you so close and that’s the very best place to be! Celebrating Corey’s arrival in heaven and like you, wondering what he saw first! I can only imagine it was more peaceful and beautiful than we could ever hope!
    Thank you for taking all of us on your journey. We have cried with you, laughed with you, celebrated the wins and prayed hard during the losses. Through all of it you have shown the hope you have in Jesus and a faith so strong!! You have been an example of what an I relentless pursuit of our savior looks like. Many times I have felt encouraged by your words. I think I will always remember Corey’s humor the most. Such a funny guy! Love you and continuing to pray for your family!

    Like

  4. Oh Mindy. I am so sorry. Last we talked Corey was doing so well. My heartbreaks with yours as I read every moment of you last days with Corey. You are such an amazing woman and mom. Corey was so blessed to have you all…leaving this Earth knowing such love and care. Sending you hugs and praying that God continues to surround you with love and peace during the future months of greiving your friend, partner, and love. Thank you for your open heart.

    Like

  5. Heaven’s gain always leaves a great void on earth. To be filled with fond memories, reminiscing moments, and precious promises of His soon coming and the anticipation of that glad reunion! Love and Prayers, Uncle Joe and Aunt Judy

    Like

  6. Mindy I don’t have words but there are tears. It’s a journey no one wishes to take but you are taking it with grace, and with much courage. God is all over this journey. We send love and hugs. Know that Brian and I are praying for all of you.

    Like

  7. Mindy, thank you for sharing your God-honoring journey. You, the kids, the Grants and Souza’s have been in our prayers and in the prayers of Canvas Church. You exude the peace and presence of Jesus and the honesty and integrity of an honest follower of Jesus. Much love from the Christ’s and from CDA!

    Like

  8. Ohhh Mindy… my heart is broken for you and the kids. I am SO sorry. Years ago… when Eva was very small, I got the phone call that no one wants to get.. Eva’s dad had suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. Those words were the hardest words I’ve ever had to speak.. telling her that grandma had called and her daddy went to Heaven… Walking beside her through the grief and pain was difficult. I had been a single mom and was newly going to church but my Eva knew her daddy was with Jesus. The morning of the 1 year anniversary of her dad’s passing there was a beautiful, golden sunrise… and every year since the sunrise on the day he had passed is breath taking. God is good…. He will get you through… it’ll be hard but He will always walk with you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words… you are inspirational.

    Like

  9. I had tears in my eyes. Hearing what happened was hard. I’ll be praying. I’ve had you guys on our church prayer chain. May His Presence ever be with you. May His love fill in even the tiniest corners of your home. God bless.

    Like

  10. We are so so sorry for the loss of your dear husband Mindy. We have been and will continue to pray for strength, peace, hope and help for you and the family.
    Sincerely,
    Greg and Janny Carlson

    Like

  11. Oh how my heart breaks for you and your family. The Lord will always, always be with you no matter what lies ahead, but He’s also blessed you with an amazing support group: your family. Praying so very, very hard right now!
    Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

    Like

  12. Mindy and kids, Sandy and I are heavy hearted and tearful as we read these events that took place. We can’t even begin to understand your pain and feeling of loss. We have known Corey for over 30 years and will miss him tremendously. He was a Godly man and made a huge impact for Christ while on this earth. Through his passing, I have drawn even more close to the Lord. I loved Corey as a brother and he was a dear friend. Sandy and I will be praying for you and the kids now and going forward. God is good and I know Corey is in Heaven with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

    Like

  13. Your words were so beautiful even in the midst of such unimaginable grief. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this journey. I’m so deeply sorry…praying for you, Jayden and Abbie. You have shown them and all of us what it is to truly walk with God and He with you. ❤️

    Like

  14. You don’t know me, Mindy, but I’ve been hearing about your family for the past year, and only recently started following your blog in the last 2 weeks . . . but I feel like part of your journey nonetheless, because you’ve shared your story in a way that touches even strangers. I had the pleasure of meeting Abbie last weekend at my grandson’s birthday party, and saw the strength and beauty of you and Corey in her smile, her laughter and her compassion. Know that even we strangers are praying for all of you, and holding you close in our hearts for comfort, healing, strength and peace for the days, weeks, years ahead without Corey by your side. Well, by your side physically – I truly believe he will be by your side, with Jesus, forever. Blessings, dear little family.

    Like

  15. What a beautiful message. It touches my heart to the very core. It reminds us that even when we might get caught up with our own struggles in life, others may be facing much greater. And it is such a great message of hope, love and inspiration. Thank you, and thanks to Pastor Rob for sharing so openly this powerful testimony of your faith.

    Like

  16. The Lord knows everything that’s going to happen and is there waiting for you. He’ll help you face whatever lies ahead. Oh how I’m praying!!!!!!!!!!!
    Deuteronomy 31:8 And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

    Like

  17. Mindy,
    I didn’t know Corey but I saw Pastor Rob’s FB share of your Unshaken post. I read every one of your postings today and cried right along with you. Your heart and faith are so beautifully inspiring. My kids lost their dad also. I can assure you that the Lord is with you and you and your children will make it. It won’t always be easy but it will be good as you see, touch and feel the precious comfort and provision from the Lord. Your grasp of the Word will continue to sustain you. May the Lord bring you extra peace as you walk through this next season. And keep writing- you are very gifted.

    Like

  18. Every time I start to say anything it just seems so flat compared to the magnitude of what you’re going through but just know that I am thinking EVERY DAY about you and especially your babies and trying to send every good thing in me your way for healing and comfort and little moments where you just feel like you can exhale for a while.

    Like

  19. He hears! Lifting prayer up to Him right now! Oh how I’m praying for your family!
    Psalms 4:1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

    Like

  20. Mindy,
    You don’t know me but I spent many summers with the “Grant brothers” at Glacier Bible Camp in Hungry Horse, MT. Corey was my age and we spent a lot of time together, up until the point we graduated H.S. and moved on with life. Corey was special and everything you mentioned; he was full of life. I have countless memories of our fun times together. I heard about his situation a couple of weeks ago and read through most of your blog. My heart aches and my eyes were full of tears reading all that you, Corey, and the kids went through. I can’t even imagine but can only humbly be thankful to the Almighty; that could have easily been me and my family instead of yours. I pray that the Father would go before you and also be your rear guard, may He be your defense and shield in the days ahead, and may He fill your life with Shalom.
    Jayson Moore

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s