The Sparks of God's Mercy
By Malou Pimental
I am a Filipino by birth, married to a Dutchman, and full-time mother to two young men. My family lives 30 minutes from Amsterdam in the northwest province of the Netherlands. My deceased parents introduced me to the Merciful Lord, a spiritual legacy for which I am forever thankful. I started to spread the devotion to the Divine Mercy six years ago here in the Netherlands.
On Jan. 1, 2014, my mother-in-law, Johanna Heek, died at 93. My family and I feel very blessed that we were able to experience a clear sign of His mercy related to her death.
Johanna was a strong and gentle lady. She said that her family was baptized Catholic but never practiced. She was recently diagnosed with liver cancer and had surgery. She told her daughter and my husband, Rudolf, that she would like to recover in her own home. Unfortunately, the last months were too difficult to grant her wish as her pain increased each day. Before Christmas, we convinced her to enter hospice. Months before she had told my sister-in-law that she wanted to be euthanasized. It was a mother-daughter pact that I found about the week after Christmas, when her pains were quite unbearable.
When I found out, I prayed fervently to the Divine Mercy "to let her sleep quietly with no recourse to euthanasia." My sister-in-law told my husband in front of me that "Oma" (her nickname) had asked that no sort of prayer rituals be done on her.
I was shocked, but I kept my peace and respect. I silently asked the Lord of mercy to abide with us. I knew that the sparks of mercy would keep glittering in the darkest corners.
My husband told me to keep doing whatever I wanted to do. So every time I had a chance to be alone with Oma, I blessed her with a sign of the cross on her forehead, and silently prayed the chaplet and Rosary.
Four days before her death, the family doctor was called so that the request for euthanasia would be executed as soon as possible. Dutch laws allow it as long as the medical standard procedures are strictly followed. The family doctor would not administer the lethal drugs. A euthanasia doctor would perform it after asking for consent from the patient.
When the family doctor asked Oma for permission for euthanasia, she answered yes. With this answer, her life would end by an infusion in two days. My prayers tripled. When I learned that we would be all present on that day, I told Rudolf that I would not be there to witness her death by injection.
The countdown to that day was nerve-racking for me. On New Year's Eve, we gathered outside her room and waited for the doctor. When I saw the doctor, I prayed harder to Jesus, saying, "Please, Lord, let it not be. Let her just sleep peacefully. Take her in Your time!"
Before the euthanasia doctor began the procedure, he asked Oma again to answer his questions. In spite of her pain, she was still in a state of full mental awareness.
The doctor asked:
"Mrs. Heek, do you approve of doing the euthanasia to you?" Silence. No answer.
"Mrs. Heek, I repeat, do you approve of doing the euthanasia to you?" Silence.
"Mrs. Heek, I want you to say your answer. I see your head is moving with disapproval.
"For the third time, I will ask you, Mrs. Heek, do you approve of doing euthanasia to you?" Total silence.
"I see your head moving in disagreement. Does this mean that you will not have euthanasia? I will not do the euthanasia until I hear you say yes. I will inform your family. I will come back when you are ready. Okay?"
Rudolf and I looked at each other with so much amazement. Rudolf's teary eyes met mine, for he knew what this meant to me. My sister-in-law's face went fiery red, for she was furious at what transpired. She was so intent on fulfilling her mother's wishes.
The moment the doctor left, my sister-in-law went to her sobbing mother and asked, "Why? Why didn't you answer him yes? That's what you want — euthanasia, right? Oma broke down and said, "Yes, I want it. I do not know why I could not answer him." I knew the rays of God's mercy had flooded her soul.
Before we went home, I blessed her again with the holy water I had with me and placed a cross on her forehead. I kissed her good night.
New Year's Eve became a spiritual moment for us. We immersed ourselves silently in the flood of God's graces at this unexpected turn of events. Jesus, I trust in You!
The next day was Jan. 1. I suggested that Rudolf spend more time with Oma. He agreed and off he went to the hospice. At around 2:30 p.m., Rudolf called up to say that Oma had died peacefully. I smiled in my heart, and tears streamed down my face. I had been praying the chaplet. My sister-in-law, who had been so angry yesterday, thanked me for the spiritual support I had extended. I realized that she experienced gratitude for something that was between me, her mom, and Jesus. I said, "I am only a vessel of God's grace!"
Suffering in our lives is so difficult and a great mystery. Saint Faustina wrote, "Suffering is the greatest treasure on earth; it purifies the soul. In suffering, we learn who our true friend is" (Diary, 342).
I realize in a deeper way that God triumphs and His sparks shine even in the darkest corners of a soul's being. Amen!