Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Saying Goodbye

The phone call came around three o'clock this afternoon; Hospice care at the nursing home where Uncle Hubert has resided for several years. "He's failing," they said. "Let family members know who may want to come and say goodbye to him."

I left work with a pit in my stomach, fear rolling in my gut. I can't do this. I've never had to visit a dying person before, let alone someone I've been extremely close to. I phoned a dear friend, someone who'd gone through tough times in his life, someone who'd had to go through this very thing a few years ago. His words will remain with me forever. For he said that God specifically chose me to be an ambassador of the family. God has my back, and will give me the courage and peace I need to walk through that door. My friend promised to pray for me and I sped toward the nursing home with my own prayers under my breath.

When I walked through the front doors and was greeted by the receptionist who I'd known for the longest time, I instantly burst into tears. She was particularly close to Uncle Hubert, and she hugged me and let me cry. And when I walked the long walk in the hallways to his room for what might be the last time, I kept thinking to myself, "I cannot do this." One step. "I'll probably crumble." Second step. One foot in front of the other, I made it to the room and was instantly greeted by the kindest hospice people, one of whom was a chaplain. They explained Uncle Hubert's condition to me, and as I saw him in what seemed a peaceful sleeping state, the tears spilled once again. His breathing was soft, his eyes tightly closed, but as I touched his arm and whispered how much he meant to me and how much I love him, he seemed to relax even more.

Other loved ones arrived and we all celebrated his life. His very good life. A feeling of peace washed over me as I've never experienced especially in such a stressful situation. I know it was the prayers of several people, and also the knowledge of where Uncle Hubert is headed. For his bent, old body will soon be made straight. His aches and pains, soon gone. He will run and laugh, never to cry again or know fear or sadness.

It is this thought dear friends, which sustains us. The thought of where we are headed, not where we have been. Let God's peace carry you through the difficult moments of life, even watching beloved loved ones as they breathe their last.

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