The Last Couple of Weeks

November 6, 2013

Well. The last couple of weeks have been a bit much.

On Thursday nearly two weeks ago, I got an email in the morning from the church who wants to hire me in Canada. The Canadian government had finally gotten to my visa application and there was an error in the way the job had originally been posted. The process would need to be restarted, which means a delay of about another three months.

On Thursday afternoon, I got a call from my mom, telling me that my brother’s wife Sando was leaving the Mayo Clinic. At age 31, her leukemia which was diagnosed in March, was totally resistant to the seven months of chemo she had gone through, and their best option at this point was hospice care. She would go home and likely only had a few days to live.

A bit much.

On Saturday morning I flew home to Minnesota and my mom and I drove up to Detroit Lakes, where my brother Wayne lives. He and Sando had been married a year and a half, but there is already a family — her four children from previous marriage. We went to visit, and Sando was in the middle of doing “spa treatments” for her 7-year-old daughter, Harmony. Sando was short of breath, even just sitting on the couch, her hair gone, her body swollen from her medication, and dark circles under her eyes. But she painted Harmony’s toes, put cucumbers on her eyes, and even gave her a hot stone massage — intent on creating a memory for her little girl with the moments she had left.

On Sunday, the sun was shining, and Sando wanted to take family pictures. She put on makeup, her wig and a bright red coat, and we all went out to a park. I snapped photos of her with her kids, her with Wayne, her with other family members who had come to visit. She directed the shots — she knew who she wanted gathered together. Again, she was out of breath and in pain, but she was determined to take these pictures with those closest to her.

Only a little more than a year ago, she was taking pictures with my brother at their wedding. Now pictures again, but this time a plastic pill organizer with all of her medication stuck out of my brother’s pocket.


On Monday, Sando began to let go. When we went over in the afternoon, she was in her room, and barely able to open her eyes. Each breath she took included a moan, and her breathing got raspier and more burdened as the day went on, her lungs filling with fluid. She no longer spoke or responded. Hospice care was now there permanently, trying to make her comfortable in her last moments. We prayed with her, thanking Jesus for saving her, for loving her and her kids so much, and praying for peace and comfort. We asked Him to be her strength and shield, that our hearts would trust in Him and be helped.

Around 10:30 that night, her breathing slowed down and quieted. She slumped into the arms of her brother. Her heart stopped beating. We are thankful that she had come to understand her need for Jesus — the salvation he brought her through His death and resurrection. We are thankful that her hope was secure in Him. And the restoration that was started when Jesus came, will continue. Like I mentioned before, one day all will be made right. Death has been swallowed up in victory. It does not get to win.

The hardest part has been seeing those who are so sad because of this loss. The kids who have to grapple with the loss of their mom. My baby brother who no longer has his wife to talk to.

But what has been beautiful in all of this, is to see the kindness demonstrated by family, friends and strangers. Cards, flowers, meals, money, prayers — people are demonstrating what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, to love your neighbor as yourself.

When I found out about the delay in my work visa, I was devastated and discouraged. I still am. I likely will not be moving to Canada until the end of January, and that stretch of time is difficult. It is hard to constantly live out of a suitcase, to not get a regular paycheck. Andrew is coming to visit this weekend, and I am so grateful. We haven’t seen one another in over two months, and it is hard to stay connected, to keep a relationship strong with someone a thousand miles away.

I still don’t understand why this delay had to be so long. However, I am so, so grateful I can be in Minnesota right now. I am glad I can spend time with Wayne and the kids. I am grateful to give hugs and play games and eat supper all together. I am thankful for a chance to reconnect with my brother in a real and tangible way.

It has been a lot for everyone. But in the sadness and confusion, we press on, trusting that God is good, that He is loving, that He is worthy.

Even when it’s a bit much.


15 Responses to “The Last Couple of Weeks”

  1. So sorry for the difficulties you’re going through, and especially for the loss of your sister-in-law. So thankful for our faithful God who will see you through this.

  2. Oh, friend. You wrote these moments in such a beautiful, transcendent way. It brought me to tears. I’m so sorry you’ve been through so much. Life is hard and sometimes it just plain sucks– and it’s okay to say so.
    …and we know God is still good. Love and prayers, grace and peace.

  3. Linda said

    Beautifully written as always, and I am wiping away my tears. I’m so sad for Wayne and the kids’ loss and will pray their hope of heaven with God as their Saviour will give them daily peace, especially when things don’t make sense.

  4. Anonymous said

    I’m so glad you were able to capture those last, important memories by camera and through your writing. The loss of someone you love is really hard. We feel the weight of their absence for such a long time. But I am grateful that Sando is with Jesus. There is true peace in knowing that. Thanks for sharing what you’re going through. We’re all on this journey together….

  5. Kerry said

    So beautifully conveyed, Denise. Still praying for your brother, the children and you! While we know someday things will be right, I am upholding you to the One who can comfort and see you all through this time. Hugs, my friend.

  6. Sonya said

    I’m so sorry, Denise My heart goes out to you and your family…and all those whose lives have been touched by your sister ‘n law. I can’t even imagine. And your visa… Wow. I’m so thankful that our God has a plan even when it makes no sense whatsoever in our own minds. Love to you, friend.

  7. marQue said

    thanks for taking the time to share this, a precious and sobering story- you, Wayne, Jill and all are in out prayers

  8. Dan said

    Heartbreaking… wonderfully written and shared. Seems like a three-month Canadian delay is perfectly timed when you’re needed elsewhere and others are blessed because of it.

  9. Cindy said

    Thanks for sharing! My heartaches for all of you. It’s nice to get the answer why you didn’t get your visa,,,,,your needed in Detroit Lakes!!

  10. I hate this for you. All of it. “A bit much” indeed.

    Sometimes I wonder if prayer makes any difference at all – but deep down, I believe it does. And I’m praying for you, for your brother, for Sando’s kids, for Andrew, for your visa, for all of it.

    It’s funny – I was raised to believe that God was our “shelter from the storm.” These days, I mostly think he just wants to stand out in the rain with us.

  11. Bill and Elaine Schuh Sando's Dad said

    Denise I don’t know what to think anymore but I do beleive that our LORD has a reason for everything that we go through ,And for the new people we cross paths with and I and Elaine both feel very happy to meet you and to call you and your family our own and Our little Sando Star that is the arms of our Lord is not hurting anymore And I’m happy that she had you beside her May the Lord BLESS you and be with you!!

  12. denisemorris said

    Thank you guys!

  13. […] The delay in my work visa was a disappointment, but I can see the Lord’s hand in it — my brother was going through a lot, and I was able to be around in a way that I haven’t been for years. I have spent more time […]

  14. […] the waiting gives me time to think about anything that could go wrong (I like to stay positive). But after last time, I just worry that the visa will get denied or delayed again, which would be the worst because I am […]

  15. Anonymous said


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