Friday, October 25, 2013

Dare to Be: Present {Days 24-25}

How do you talk to someone whose eyes are closed tight? Someone who is not moving except for labored breathing and they may die at any minute? How do you talk to someone who will not give any indication that they heard what you said?

For the next few days in hospice, I knew my calling. My calling was to be present. 

To be present to my father-in-law during his last days on earth, whatever that would look like. 

Every chance I got, I touched his shoulder. I smoothed his hair. I held his hand. I counted it all a privilege that I will never forget.

His hands had driven a semi across many miles during his lifetime. When we had lived in a different state, his hands worked hard at doing whatever we needed done when they visited. His hands broke bread in church, and served in any which way that was needed. Now, his hand could not grasp mine.

I counted it a privilege to hold his hand in these moments. He was not aware of me being there. 

Or was he? 

They say that even if a person is not responsive, the last of the senses to go is hearing. And touch.

One by one, his children found a time to say their good byes. My husband said them to his dad with a few others in the room. One son wanted to say his alone.

I wanted to figure out a way to just say them.

He had been my father-in-law for 29 years. I wanted to tell him thank you for being such a wonderful father-in-law. I wanted to be able to thank him for welcoming me into the family. A girl not from Iowa, but from Nebraska. Someone not from their son's group of friends. A "foreigner". 

The room finally emptied of people. The chair was open next to his bed on the day before he died. I sat down. I held his hand. It was puffy and kind of red, except for the blue that was beginning to form on his fingernails. This was a sign there wasn't much time left. 

I held his hand gently, sitting next to him. And, I thanked him for all those things as if he was looking right at me. I told him through tears. I was present.

I am grateful for that chance. 

Being present is something I am daring myself to keep doing. Even when it might seem awkward or uncomfortable.

Being fully present brought indescribable blessing.

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  1. Beautifully written Anne. Your heart showed through...I could feel that being present

    1. Thank you, Gloria. What a precious time it was. Although sad, we have hope of life eternal because of Jesus.

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  2. I was reminded of the days before my dear father-in-law passed away in 1985, at the young age of 58. We weren't ready to say goodbye, and the process of saying goodbye was bittersweet, but so necessary. Precious memories.


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