Well….After I had a nice and long “update” finished this afternoon, Brianna went to post it for me and because of “high traffic” volume we had exceeded our usage limit and so we lost the whole thing! We were just getting ready to leave to go to Dave and Ruth Ann Millers for the evening and so now it is much later but I guess I will try it again. I am sorry for not posting earlier. Thank you so much for the many prayers that have been offered on our behalf. We have felt those prayers and were surrounded in love today by many family and friends through text messages, emails, and also in person. We are so blessed!
As I was looking out of the motorhome window this afternoon, I saw all of the colors of the leaves that are dying and falling off of the trees. We know that soon the trees will be bare and all that remains are the trunks and the bare branches. However, because of this dying process, we get to savor the beautiful, brilliant colors of red, orange, yellow and green that we would otherwise not be able to enjoy. This reminds me of Austin’s passing….In itself, his death seems to be “cold and ugly” like a single dying leaf. Yet, in the bigger scheme of things…we can see the beautiful picture that God is orchestrating. Many people have been drawn to the “color” that has been produced from Austin’s life and his “Home-going”. And just like the refreshing spring time comes again, we also know that now through dying….Austin also now lives on! He truly is a “winner.”
Back to the final days update…….After everyone said “good night” on Saturday evening and we prayed one more time for Austin, the girls left the motorhome to spend the night in the motorhome next door with their friend Lori. I remember that they told Austin that they loved him and hoped he would feel better in the morning. Little did they know that these would be their last words to their dear brother. Austin seemed comfortable and was able to sleep and so we decided that we would see how he was feeling in the morning and then determine the next step to take.
Austin was able to sleep but was awake a few times to use the restroom. The last time was around 2:00 a.m. He threw up again and so Duane told him to sleep in the bottom bunk instead of climbing up into his own bunk. Since the bottom bunk is a double bunk, Duane decided to sleep beside him so that he could help him if he needed assistance. Duane woke me up at one point because he didn’t know if Austin was maybe confused or just talking in his sleep. I went out to Austin and asked him a couple of questions and he clearly answered them although he just sounded like he sometimes did when he had been sleeping. Austin said that he just wanted to sleep and so we went back to bed until around 4:00 a.m. Since Duane was laying right beside Austin, he heard him making a noise but when he went to help Austin sit up, he didn’t respond. Duane quickly came and woke me up. We started CPR right away and called the ambulance. Although it seemed like a life time, the ambulance and EMT personnel arrived within about 10 minutes. They worked on Austin for quite a while but there was no heart beat any more.
By now, we were completely surrounded by all of our Gospel Express family and had lots of support and many came to the hospital with us. After approximately 45 minutes of no heart beat, they were finally able to restart Austin’s heart. I will never forget the sheer joy and hope that I felt when I heard that his heart was beating again! So many times before, Austin had beat all of the odds and pulled through when the doctors had given up all hope. It seemed like he was going to do it again! I struggled with wondering why God allowed this even to happen because we soon received the heart rendering news that there was no brain activity at all. Austin never took another breath on his own after Duane heard him while he was laying beside him. Austin was life flighted to the hospital in Atlanta and there he received all the help they could offer but in spite of lots of medication ($25,000 worth) they were not even able to keep his blood pressure up. Although we had to sign the papers to remove life support, we felt like we didn’t have to make the choice because it was obvious that God had already made the decision to take Austin home with Him. Austin was ready to go and what could be better than going while you are sleeping?
I remember watching while Austin was again being poked and prodded with needles and feeling such a sense of relief because I felt like he wasn’t “there” anymore to have to go through yet another painful procedure. One person that I am looking forward to meet when I get to Heaven is Jesus’ mother, Mary. How did she endure what she did? My children have not experienced anything like Jesus did but I know that I have felt the deep agony of wanting to scream out in emotional pain when I have seen my son, my flesh and blood suffer and being so helpless to offer any relief. At times, I would have to leave the room because I couldn’t handle the pain of seeing any more. In our case, the ones causing the pain and doing the procedures were actually doing it to help our children but Mary saw how Jesus was being mistreated so unjustly and out of pure hatred and also being forsaken by His Heavenly Father. What a big difference!
Later this evening, after Austin’s ICU room was crowded with family and friends, he was taken off of life support and soon after this, his heart stopped beating. We were singing these words when the monitor flat lined: “I will love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death. And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath. And say while the death dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I love Thee, my Jesus, tis’ now.” Duane commented how Austin is now in the “land of the living” while we are in the “land of the dying”. Oh, for that glorious day when we will again be reunited with Austin and together experience eternal life!
Until then…Remember that there are many blessings we will never experience if we aren’t willing to accept and endure suffering and there are certain joys that we will never know except through sorrow.
I will share more tomorrow.
Cindy (for The Mullett Family)