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For the last three days I have been sitting in a room among family and friends with a man who was dying.
It was a peaceful experience.
One I will remember for a very long time.
He was moved from Critical intensive care to home where he wanted to spend his last hours.
In the midst of this ‘sad event’ I had time to think about the thirty four years we had known him.
It was difficult but also a blessing to be a part of this final journey.
Death is so individual.
Some people fight it.
Some embrace it for they know there is something better ‘waiting’ for them on the other side.
He did a little bit of both for the process is difficult when one is leaving from one place to another.
I have often said to watch someone die is a lot like watching someone giving birth.
One is entering with hope and a future.
One is leaving with finality and history.
The intensive labor, the breathing, the pain.
Very similar experiences in birth or in death.
I have sat with three people now as the dying process took them home to a different ‘better’ place.
This was the first time I was actually present
when the last breath was taken.
It is a shocking moment. It is also sacred.
This man, an adopted ‘dad’ figure for us and grandpa to our children.
Lived to be eighty eight years old.
Long many years of experience, of love, of family, and of faith.
Seven days before he died he was at our house for an Easter dinner.
I am glad we shared a last supper with him.
As the oxygen tank gurgled and made it’s whoosh sound
I listened and observed and prayed.
They say the last thing that leaves when a person is dying is the ability to hear.
So many who visited him whispered and sang and talked to him.
As the body shuts down it becomes agitated.
The fight to stay wars against the fight to leave.
When the breathing changes and the color leaves you begin to realize the one dying is heading home.
When I realized this long life of his would soon be gone.
I looked around the house of treasures and memories shared
between man and wife for fifty eight years.
She had gone before him six months earlier.
I believe he not only died of a heart that he refused to fix
but also from a heart broken when he lost his love.
We said goodbye to an old dear friend of ours.
In the sacred moment where soul leaves body we were deeply saddened and also relieved that the journey was over.
In the chair with his bible in his lap near the door way to his office.
The shell of a man laid beneath the blanket.
It was not weird or odd to sit in silence with him.
It was over.
The final hours of pain and suffering ended when he took that last breath and it was peaceful.
Just as in birth when the announcement comes ‘it’s a boy or it’s a girl’
the phone calls began as we shared… “it’s over… he is gone”.
Just as in birth when one looks at the clock and observes 5:15 am a baby is born we looked at the clock and saw time of death was 7:51 pm when a life ended.
I wonder what it was like for him to move from this ‘realm’ to another.
I believe when he entered into that glorious place heaven rejoiced.
Saying good bye is much harder to say then ‘welcome home.’
It was a five day journey and it ended on Sunday night.
He was a pastor, a professor, a teacher, a chaplain and adopted grandpa and friend.
We will miss him as we say goodbye.
The journey is over rest in peace dear friend God called you home.