Strolling down the hall and around the corner, I find a memorial of poems and pictures of loved ones who have gone to another place - I hope Heaven. The heart-felt words open up places in me so that I can feel, as I have entered a knumb state. They touched something, I know not what. People comment about how happy and peaceful I am, yet I know I am just in the first stage of grief. I am not trying to be strong, so I look for ways to feel. I do feel the depth of God somehow, but I seem to be distant from the sadness expected.
I was the last to see him breathe. The hospice nurses said that they don't like to go when there is a crowd. Family and friends were coming and going for three days. I was just on the phone with a friend who told me how she read a Psalm as a friend fell into heaven. Of course I didn't have my bible with me. My dad pulled of his oxygen nose hose. I put it back on, but not around the ears. He flapped it off. The toxins in the room started to hit my senseless nose, so I was about to leave with a quick good-bye. But I remembered my friend's story.
His breathing increased, so I approached his bed and recited the Lord's prayer: Our Father.......I then read the poem "October" that I wrote about him. It was inspired by a picture down the hall - the only picture that made me stop and study it. Normally, I would've passed by, but an angel must've directed me there. His breath became rhythmatic to the tempo of my reading. Was he breathing it in or trying to stay alive for it? He didn't have his hearing aids on, so if he heard it, it was with God's help. He quit breathing with the last word of my poem. Then it was quiet after the storm.
I watched myself cry as if standing outside of myself. I stopped and started like a big gulp. I pressed the nurse button and she came in. "Is he dead?" I asked. She checked his pulse. "There's just a little flutter, you have some time to say something." So I said "I love you dad. Good-bye. God's peace." His mouth was left open wide and still. His eyes slit alittle open revealing that nobody was home (on earth) inside.
Too amazed that I would be the one to usher him into the kingdom, I find it hard to cry now. Later a friend came in with a yellow rose that I placed near his folded arms. Some tried to close his mouth, but it fell back down. Within an hour it came together. A nurse came in and saw the rose and said "That's so prophetic." Of course I had to ask why. She said "I was married with yellow roses, even if they don't go well with my complexion. I like them because they are joyful and their color sings in a field." When she saw that the corners of his mouth had tipped up she said "His soul is shining at us." So us kids chose the bouquet with the yellow roses for the funeral.
They placed a light green butterfly above the number of his door. My friend explained it was to let the nurses know that he was no longer alive. The color symbolized springtime in his new home. He was no longer trapped in the cocoon of his earthy body, with a blink he will fly.
I was meditating on the word "Father" today. Do I have two fathers who are in heaven? Don't worry, I know which One to pray to.
H. Stone © 2005
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Thank you for sharing your story with us. I have been experiencing some grief of my own this week and you can't imagine how much your story ministered to me. I too was the last to speak to him and I watched him take his last breathe. It was difficult to say the least.
Pamela, Your strength is a testimony to me. Your faith is so strong. May Jesus hold you closely to his heart at this difficult time. Thanks for blessing us with your writing.