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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Grace Will Lead Us Home
By Emily Gibson
02/29/08


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"It isn't helping. We've tried everything we've got. Despite that effort, he is going downhill, his oxygen levels are dropping, his kidney function is failing. I'm afraid we're losing the battle against the infection."

The intensivist looked weary and defeated. The nurses were staring at their laps, unable to look up, their eyes tearing. The hospital chaplain reached out and took his mother's hands.

After a week of heroic treatment, there was now clarity about the next step. The prayed for miracle of healing was not happening.

His mother spoke first: "Then we need to call his sister and let her know she needs to get back here as soon as she can. I need to make some calls to his friends so they can be here if they wish. He would want them here."

His father: "We know you did your best. We know you tried everything. We really appreciate everything you've done."

Two hours later, a group gathered in the waiting room outside the ICU doors. The average age was about 21; they assisted each other in tying on the gowns over their clothing, distributed gloves and masks. Together, holding each other up, they waited for the signal to come in after the ventilator had been removed and he was breathing without assistance. They entered his room and gathered around his bed.
He was ravaged by this sudden illness, his strong body beaten and giving up. His breathing was ragged and irregular, the sedation preventing response but not necessarily preventing awareness. He was surrounded by silence as each individual who had known and loved him struggled with the knowledge that this was the final goodbye.

His father approached the head of the bed and putting his gloved hands on his boy's forehead and cheek, he held this young man's face tenderly, bowing in silent prayer and then murmuring words of comfort. It's okay to let go. It's okay to leave us now. We will see you again. We'll meet again in the glory of the Lord. We know you are in His presence.

His mother stood alongside, rubbing her son's arms, gazing into his face as he slowly slowly slipped away. His father began humming, indistinguishable notes initially, just low sounds coming from a deep well of anguish and loss.

As the son's breaths spaced farther apart, dad's hummed song became recognizable as the hymn of praise by John Newton, Amazing Grace, and the words started to form around the notes. At first his dad was singing alone, giving a gift to his son as he passed, and then his mom joined in as well. His sisters wept. His friends didn't know all the words but tried to sing through their tears. The chaplain helped us all when we stumbled, not knowing if we were getting it right, not ever having done anything like this before.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

His mom hugged each sobbing person there--the roommates, the classmates, the nurses, the doctors humbled by a powerful pathogen. She thanked each one for being present for his death, for their vigil through the week in the hospital.

His parents' grief was gracious and giving to the young people who had never seen death before, perhaps had never seen such faith in action before, and who certainly had never seen a miracle happen in a way we could not have known and could not expect. This mom and dad gave a sacred gift through their son to his friends.

And Grace will lead us home.
Alleluia!


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This article has been read 614 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
WOW.. heartbreaking! Not sure how I would handle having to go through something like this.
LauraLee Shaw03/07/08
I had to go find a box of kleenex for this one. What a beautiful and heartfelt piece. Thank you for blessing us with it.
Seema Bagai 03/08/08
Beautifully written piece.
Teresa Hollums03/10/08
I also have lost a son. It was to cancer and he was only 33. It is heartbreaking and it still is, but God is still great and their is much wonderful witnessing in being present when a Christian life is now ending in heaven! God's grace to you, too.
Sara Harricharan 03/12/08
Brought tears to my eyes with this piece. It's beautiful and so sad at the same time. I loved how you used the song with the story. That made it even more real. Great writing. ^_^
Debbie Wistrom03/12/08
No words, just thans for a great entry.
Celeste Ammirata03/12/08
Wow! This was a tear jerker. My son lost a friend, just a year out of high school. This scene sounds like what happened in Jimmy's room. God bless you for this reminder of Love, LIfe, and the Afterlife.
TJ Nickel03/12/08
A transition such as this isn't easy to do, very brave! Seemed to come to an abrupt ending. Maybe it was the transition back. Either way, I liked this so much.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/08
Precious and peaceful...I almost felt as if I were reading it in a whisper.
Joanne Sher 03/12/08
Very engaging and compelling. Your descriptions are just lovely.
Patty Wysong03/12/08
I could hear the humming and then the singing, along with the tears (mine included). Very powerful.
Dee Yoder 05/08/08
Very tender and lovely. It makes the final good-bye easier when we know our loved ones will be in Heaven. This reminded me of my young husband's home-going 12 years ago.