I sit beside her bed watching her labored breathing. Thoughts of all the words that we had never gotten around to sharing were going through my head, some just slowly crawling past my consciousness, others speeding by like rockets, barely registering before new thoughts and memories appeared on the horizon.
I wanted to reach out and hold her in my arms. I wanted to run screaming from the room, refusing to believe it was real. To beg for help, wanting someone to make it stop. I wanted it to be over with, quickly, instead of having to sit there and wait for her breathing to end. I wanted it to never happen at all.
So many conflicting thoughts and memories, some happy, some sad, some just plain old vanilla memories, neither good nor bad. The little things we take for granted. Sitting at the breakfast table together. Standing next to each other while we washed the dishes. Quietly watching a television show together. Or the exciting memories, like: ďMom, itís a boy, youíre a grandmother!Ē She responded by turning to dad and telling him she was too young to be sleeping with a grandpa.
She has lain in that bed for so long now, I barely remember her being active and vibrant. Mom was never one to sit still; she always had to be doing something. She couldnít just sit with idle hands and watch the television, she would have to be doing the mending, or stitching one of her many quilt blocks, blocks that never actually got sewn into the planned quilt.
It all happened so quickly. We never expected it. Strokes are cruel things. It left her in a state of not really being there, barely able to communicate with us. We never knew for sure how much she understood of what we said to her. Then she would astound us with a completely clear sentence, and when we reacted with excitement, she would then once again retreat into that nether world she had lived in for ten years now.
During her infrequent waking moments she exudes a sense of total peace, a peace that comes from deep inside her. The peace she exhibits is the only thing that makes what is happening bearable. The small strokes she is having daily now, each one taking away a little more of who she is, make the waiting so painful. Watching, and waiting; knowing that she is near the end of her journey. When she finally fully wakes again she will be home.
Iíve dreamt of her sometimes, seeing her run through the fields, playing with the many great-grandchildren sheís never even met. I hear her sing, oh, how she loved to sing. Thatís one of the strongest memories I have of my childhood, listening to my mother sing as she did the housework.
ďMom,Ē I whispered. ďItís okay, let go and be free again. Play with the angels. Visit with your mother. Go! Where you can laugh, and run and talk and sing again. Please, go! Quickly! Donít stay here for us. This is your time now. God is waiting for you.Ē
Her breathing changes, Iím sure she understands how much I love her, and will miss her. But itís time for her to go home. To that wonderful home that waits for her. To the mansion she never had here, with unending gardens, no more worries, just love and peace.
ďI love you, mom.Ē
I reach out, again, and brush the thinning white hair off her forehead. It feels so strange to be comforting her, she was always the one to comfort us. She will never have to worry about us again, for all of eternity she can sing in the heavenly choir and walk through the flowers.
A last breath, released with a sigh. Her body is still. Peace. Eternal peace. My tears slowly come, but Iím not sure whether they are in relief or grief. I donít think it matters. I sit by her side for a while, envisioning her entrance through the gates, being greeted by all those who have gone home before her. I see her turn, giving me one last smile, and a wave of her hand, and then the vision fades away as they dance out of my sight across the field of flowers.
Yes, All Is Well, With My Soul.
I hum the last refrain of the hymn as I walk from the room.
All Is Well With My Soul By: Horactio G. Safford, 1873
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
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