Four years ago on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, we gathered around Nick’s frail body to say “good bye” and witnessed the passing of Nick from this life to the next.
So much has happened in the last four years.
Erich and Evan both graduated from college.
Erich married Mallory.
Todd graduated from high school.
Erich and Mallory moved to Nashville, TN, and then on to Dallas, TX.
Evan moved to Los Angeles.
Todd began college.
Olivia started high school.
Tim and I have muddled our way through all of these big events and in the process had some very difficult moments and some very wonderful ones.
I have learned so much in the past four years about myself, about grief, about life, about death, about God’s never-ending love, and about the amazing strength that comes from knowing that God has an amazing eternity planned for all of us if we put our trust in Him!!
Today, I decided to look back.
I decided to repost for the first time the post I wrote on the night after Nick died, because I wanted each of you to know that from Nick’s fight with cancer to that painful day and continuing on until the day I hug Nick again in Heaven, I have not and will not stop being thankful for all of you who pray for our family and who walk this road of life and grief with us.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Dear Precious Prayer Warriors,
You know I just couldn’t end my day without spending time with all of you who have grown to hold such a special place in my heart.
First, I have to say that Nick’s journey may have ended in a physical sense today, but Nick’s journey is only beginning in a spiritual sense. While my heart is literally torn in two, I know deep inside that Nick is with His Heavenly Father…………safe in the arms we have all laid him in time and time again in prayer. And Nick’s journey will continue here on earth as well. A foundation will be beginning in Nick’s name. Through this foundation Nick’s life will touch others for years to come as we give college scholarships, promote literacy in children, minister to hurting families and sick children, and help support missions worldwide. Nicholas Yancy Nischan stil has work to do!
Second, I have to share with you a little about the past couple of days at our house. All of our kids have been home, which in and of itself has been wonderful. Erich, our oldest son who is a junior in nursing school, has been more help than I could possibly EVERY put into words. Nick’s health had weakened to the point that we could not have made it without Erich’s strength, knowledge, and love for Nick. Evan’s humor kept Nick’s spirits up on many occasions. Todd and Olivia continued with their “normal” activities of computer/cell phone life (Todd) and sleepovers and basketball (Olivia). I believe that these normal events also kept Nick’s spirits up. One evening a little friend of Olivia’s stayed all night and we made gingerbread cookies. I came down and asked Nick if he would like to make one if I brought him a pan and a cookie cutter. He said, “no,” until Mamaw had the great idea that he could give the gingerbreadman a gun! Nick cut out a man and Mamaw helped him create a nice-sized bazooka in one of its arms!
Thanksgiving morning Nick was lying on the couch upstairs and mamaw was under his feet holding her dog, Amber. I was sitting with Nick’s head on my lap on a pillow. The tumors were so hard to look at but deep inside I just kept praying that they would shrink….that Nick’s head would be totally healed. As we sat there together, Nick patted the blanket and said, “Amber,” in a sweet little voice, trying to get Mom’s dog’s attention. Then when Amber looked at him, he said, “This is the life.” And honestly, Nick meant it. He had me at one end of the couch, and my mom at the other end of the couch. He was under a blankie and there were no needles and in his mind no worries. He had great peace. To him it truly was “the life!”
He was able to eat a little for Thanksgiving dinner and then of course we watched the Titans have their 11th victory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With a score of 47 to 10!! I of course loved the numbers, and Tim told me later that Nick was so glad the Lions didn’t score 1 more point! He knew I would have totally flipped out then. But truthfully the 47 points combined with the 11th win was enough for me to know that God was with us in a very special way. Nick napped off and on throughout the afternoon, and then late in the day, as I was sitting by him holding his hand I noticed that his hands were tightening up and he kept looking over at me but not really talking. I felt very nervous and honestly thought that maybe he was going to die at that time, but mom said she thought he was having a seizure and we were able to give him some medicine that really relaxed him. We called Martha, my very dear friend who has been such an unbelievable nurse to Nick over the past few weeks. She and Linda (our other special nurse and friend) came within minutes and stayed for a while to make sure things were okay. I did not want to take Nick to the hospital……the thought of having him endure any needles was more than I could bear.
Nick fell to sleep peacefully that evening, but on Friday morning it was apparent that Nick was not waking up from his sleep. It was as if he were in a coma. All day long he slept without responding to us when we would talk. The boys would take turns talking to him and they even brought Rock Band down to the room with him and played for a while hoping he would hear and want to wake up and be a part of the action. Friday night at midnight, Mom, Erich, Tim, and I were still up (Olivia had gone to stay at a friend’s house) and I had bought the movie, “The Nativity” which we decided to watch. It was such a beautiful reminder of the amazing plan God had in bringing His Son into this world, and I just hope and pray that Nick could hear the movie as he slept there with us watching it.
This morning, Nick’s breathing seemed much more strained, but he still would not respond when we talked to him. Evan, who normally sleeps in very late, was up by a little after 9 and was sitting right at Nick’s head just watching him and touching his shoulder. I came down and suggested Evan get under his feet and rub them for a while. I looked down into the room a bit later and Evan had leaned over on Nick and was holding his hand and was sleeping. I wanted to take a picture, but I chose to just take one with my heart. It just didn’t seem right to violate that moment for Evan. But I couldn’t help but think of the verse that says Mary, “pondered all these things in her heart.” That is what I have tried so hard to do this Thanksgiving break….simply ponder and soak up every precious minute. Every single word.
Around 11 (I think), I had been outside talking to mom for a minute on the porch about Nick’s condition and then came in to give him another kiss. I noticed that something did not seem quite right and went to get mom. I called Martha and a couple of other people from church and they were at our house within minutes. It was amazing how Nick seemed to know that the stage was set for his beautiful departure to glory. Erich came to hold his hand and was crying, Todd came down beside him and cried harder than I have ever heard him cry in my life, Evan sat at Nick’s side and held onto him crying, Caleb (Todd and Nick’s buddy from birth sat right there along with us), and my brother got there in time to be with us too. Tim was at Nick’s head and I was at Nick’s side……………It was so hard to let go and whisper in Nick’s ear that it was okay to go. I reminded him of Bill Leamon and John Mark Pemberton….I asked him to take care of Adrienne until we get there………….I told him we would be there soon. Mom sat at Nick’s feet and told him she loved him too. It was a moment in time that I will hold close to my heart every minute of every day for the rest of my life. Nick simply began breathing less and less frequently until he took his last breath.
From that moment on our house has been a constant whirlwind of friends and family. We are sure that at least 100 people have been in and out of our home today. We feel so loved and so thankful. I have so much more to say, but I know that I am already going to be in trouble for the hour at which I am writing this. For tonight, I have to say this, Of all moms who were ever handed a child, I consider myself one of the most blessed to have been handed Nicholas Yancy Nischan, my sweet Nick. Oh, please know that I have cried so many times today.
I will share tomorrow about Olivia’s learning of Nick’s passing.
Tonight as I went up to get my computer, I saw Nick’s cell phone lying on the table still hooked to its charger from Thanksgiving Day. I just broke down in my mom’s arms. Oh, I love Nick so much. I will miss him more than words can ever say…..EVER SAY. However, I am determined and committed to being the vessel through which Nick’s testimony and love for God will touch lives from this day forward. I will share more with you later about how you can be a part of Nick’s continuing journey.
Olivia so sweetly said tonight, “I would love it if Nick showed up at his foundation.” Then she said, “He probably won’t though.” It was so precious. She misses him so much. I told her Nick will be everywhere we are. At every game, every concert, everything. Oh, I love you all so much.
I have a lot to learn about prayer and miracles and times when prayers seem to not be answered in the ways we desire………….. I hope and pray that you will walk this chapter of Nick’s journey with me as faithfully as you did the first.
With Gratitude for Every Prayer Whispered on Nick’s Behalf,