Wednesday, July 27, 2011
We will all have that moment.
The one when we pass from this life to the next.
I often think about mine... when it will be, what it will be like.
But more often, I think about his.
Some know the moment they left. I remember still that second "un-meeting" I went to. "Un-meeting" because there wasn't a meeting scheduled that night but since she and I were both there, we sat down and made our own. She too had lost a son, but like all of us in this secret society, her story was different than mine. He had lived a while. Suffered. But when she spoke of his passing a peace swept across her face. She was holding him. They were outside and it was a perfect day. A day when the sky is clear~ dotted with white cotton clouds~ "A straight shot". She held her son, looked at him and watched him take his last breath. She looked to the sky and thought, "A straight shot."
I sat there soaking in her words and felt the comfort she had saying them. Sure, she had lost a son just like I had but there are moments that we cling to in our stories- moments that are our's that we find comfort in... this was one of her's.
I started to think about that. That moment. The one when Andrew passed from this world to the next. I tried to think back to that day but as hard as I try to remember the moment- what I was doing when he flew away- I can't, because I don't know.
2003 was a tough year for us. One when we lost three precious members of our family...
Though I was not there I knew the moment my Great Auntie died. I was sitting in my bed and it was late at night. I was writing Andrew a letter in his journal, writing about her, when the light next to me went out. I had tears streaming down my face and because the hallway light was on, I was still able to continue my thoughts~ wondering about her time~ was it near? When I finished my writing, the lights came back on and I wondered... a sign? I wrote about that thought- shut off the light- and went to bed.
The next morning, I got a call from my dad. My Auntie had passed sometime during the night. She was out of her pain, in a better place. I was getting closer. I knew the moment, but I was not there.
And then came the last death we had that year. Like my Auntie, we knew it would come. My father-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer shortly after our boys were born. He suffered that year and as predicted by the doctor, it was his last.
Those final days were filled with pain- utterings of things we didn't always understand. The nurse told us sometimes people 'wait' for things, for 'unfinished' business. We couldn't imagine what he was waiting for~ One of the last things I remember him asking was if it was December yet... Everyone looked around the room that August day and wondered why the question. I looked down at my swollen belly and wondered if it contained the answer.
I felt like I was swimming. We were coming up to the first anniversary of my son's death, my Auntie had passed and here I was waiting... waiting for his turn. Though I loved him so very much, I still felt like an outsider looking in. I slipped my hand in my husbands knowing that that was why I was there- in these intimate moments with his family.
Days went by and it was suggested that we leave- go grab a shower- a bite to eat- some sunshine (that in those days only seemed to be seen through the hospital window). We stayed so they could go. They went, and it was the three of us in that room. Alone.
It was so quiet. Just the sound of his labored breathing. I will never forget the rhythm of it~ the sound it made- like a broken machine determined to keep going.
We went close to his bed, one on either side. My husband grabbed his father's hand, and I grabbed his other. This was it. Our moment. To say all those things that were on our heart. All those things we wanted to say, but couldn't in front of the others.
We told him we knew he'd see Andrew soon. Tell him we love him. Tell him how much we miss him. Sing to him in that off-key, wonderful way that you sing to your other grandchildren. Look him in his eyes- those beautiful eyes that we never saw and tell him we'll be there- We'll be home one day and until we meet again, not a day will go by that we don't think of him.
I looked to my stomach and felt a kick and we told him it was OK. He could see this grandchild born from heaven. There was another grandchild it was time to meet. We would take care of mom. It was OK. He could leave.
In that moment his breathing changed. The time between breaths was growing. My husband stayed with his father while I grabbed the nurse. She said it was hard to tell, but that perhaps we should call her.
My mother-in-law made it moments later. She rushed to her husband's side. I stood in the corner feeling I shouldn't be here for this. This is not my moment. She placed her hands on him and said, "It's OK. I'm here." I stood with tears running down my face because I felt it. That same peace I did that September when I knew he was safe. The same peace I felt when that light came back on. I knew.
She asked if we had heard him take another breath. We both shook our heads. I squeezed my husband's hand and went to get the nurse. I waited outside the room. This was not my moment but God had let me in. He let me see how peaceful, how wonderful how perfect it is~ When it is time, perhaps you just know.
I don't know what it was like for Andrew. What did he see? What did he hear? What did he feel? But I do know that it was his time. Being there- in that moment- I felt a strange peace about all of it. About death.
I sat in that hallway crying for what was lost- an amazing man who I would miss loving my children.
I sat in that hallway crying for what was gained- an amazing man who would be there- loving my (now) children.
I recently read a book, Heaven is for Real. I read it nodding~ for it unfolded like I thought it would. Like I knew it would. Because I believe and I know. It would be a comfort for those who need it. An answer perhaps.
Heaven is for real.
They are there.
And one day, I'll be there too.
**The picture is of my Jonasens' hands...
My son and his namesake who now holds the hands of my others, in heaven~