Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exhale (08/15/13)
TITLE: Final Goodbye
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I could hear the rattle in her shallow breathing and with each labored breath I knew she was fighting to hold onto life. Walking over to the edge of the bed I took her boney little hand in mine, I leaned over and whispered in her ear “I’m here grandma” her loving eyes slowly opened and with barely a sound she whispered, “more ice” as I reached over for the little white styrofoam cup of ice shavings, in an instant all my doubts and fears of this journey no longer existed. I inhaled nervously, and then exhaled with nothing but love and gratitude for this dear soul that once was so vibrant, now lay so deathly still.
No words were spoken, I sat there holding her hand and carefully continued feeding her ice shavings between her drifting in and out of restless sleep. I hadn’t forgotten the music and singing that was still playing quietly in the old tape recorder, I just hadn’t had time to zone in on it, the memories of recording the song choices for this dear individual that her continued life consisted of inhaling breaths so painfully slow, and me holding my breath waiting and listening for her to exhale, which eventually would come after what seemed like an eternity!
An hour passed with nurses coming and going, my thoughts were able to relax a little into semi conscious reminiscing of treasured childhood memories of time spent at the farm with my grandma. During one of these memories I was jarred by a very feeble voice requesting me to sing a song for her, “I’ll Fly Away” Without hesitation I began to sing the cherished old gospel song. I watched her as I sang and there seemed to be a slight smile on those dried chapped lips, those lips that had kissed my young cheeks when I was a young girl kneeling on the stool watching her as she baked her famous gingersnaps! I was nearing the second last line of the chorus and my voice faltered and I paused, she whispered, “It’s okay, sing it, sing it with all your heart” I was crying now and with tears streaming down my cheeks I sang, “When I die hallelujah by and by” the song was done, and with my tears still falling I kissed my dear grandma, with my ear down close to her lips I heard the long soft final exhale, the exhale from this old earth ~ the final exhale from her tiny body wracked with so much pain, in exchange for streets of purest gold and no more sorrow, sickness, or pain! I kissed her frail hand, and gently placed it back on her now lifeless body, I whispered “I love you grandma, I will see you in the sweet by and by” and with that I turned and walked down the long white hall for the final time, slowly pushing the old wooden door open and letting it swing closed behind me. Without looking back I knew I had just witnessed the final exhale, from this old life into glorious eternity!
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