Personal stories and testimonies from volunteer authors who wish to offer the hope they found.

If you would like to offer your story, send it to Write ATF Story in the subject line. ATFM maintains all rights of acceptance or refusal, and editing as necessary for readability and appropriateness. There is no financial compensation if your story is published here. Anonymous submissions are acceptable.

Husband’s Last Days

by Bonnie Isaacs 4/16/2023

His strength was waning and his voice was growing too weak to finish the conversation. But it was decision time. The hospice oncologist said if we were going to move him back home, we would have to do it now… within the next day or so… or he would pass there at the Hospice of the Western Reserve facility.

Just days prior, we had arrived on the weekend with the expectation of a brief stay. I had not come
prepared to remain with him but saw how quickly he declined and was losing the ability to express his
needs, so I stayed day and night. Through considerable effort, my dear husband had said, “I
thought we were going to get these symptoms under control and go back home, but now, it isn’t looking
like that is going to happen.”

Medication adjustments and several things had been done to make him more comfortable, and we could take him home. But my nurse mind saw the signs, and I knew this would require putting in place a caregiver rotation at the house and relying heavily upon family to do this. And much of my husband’s last strength would be expended in that move. Perhaps it would be better to stay there and let the compassionate and skilled staff do what they do best, and let the family spend quality personal time in visits rather than physical assistance.

I wanted desperately to let BJ make this decision for himself. He had always made big decisions, not necessarily without talking things through together, but ultimately and prayerfully, he had. But this time… and at this time… I would need to make this decision for him. I would need to make
an executive decision on his behalf that would not be reversible, and could be wrong.

I stayed with him for his final eight days before his promotion to glory. The three-year battle with
pancreatic cancer was coming to a close, and I had much time to think and pray, to grieve, and to mourn
the loss of this great man of God. Husband of nearly 42 years; patriarch of my family of three daughters,
two sons-in-law, and one grandson; priest to my household and also to many others in the flock he had
pastored over decades of ministry. I was losing him.

During those last days, a minister friend said something that struck me oddly at the timing. He
reminded me that BJ and I are one. Why would he say that, knowing soon we would be parting? The
answer to that was one to God’s glory. Another dear friend sent later a messenger text, “Joshua
1:5,9.” We had not spoke of the struggle then raging in my soul— losing my hubby, patriarch, priest—
and dealing with the fear of making wrong decisions. But God knew. And He gave me a clear answer in
those verses (italics mine):

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses,
so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. “ Have I not commanded you? Be
strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is
with you wherever you go.” (ESV)

The same God who was with BJ would remain with me. The same Holy Spirit that guided him
would be guiding me. Although my partner was being taken from my side, I would not be alone.
Strength and courage would be my portion. This has proven so to be, by God’s gracious and
abundant provision.