I’ve sat next to two men while they were dying, and although I wasn’t sitting right next to them when they actually stopped breathing, I was still a part of their death.
The first one, my step-father was almost 5 years ago. My sister and I cared throughout the night for him, just us two. Wiping his mouth, giving ice chips, talking to him, and listening to his words we could not comprehend. It was heartbreaking. It was sad. But I wouldn’t have traded spots with anyone. Caring for him was my last honor I could do for him. In the hospital room, God placed my sister and I. I couldn’t comprehend some of the things that occurred in the days leading up to that night, or even the next few days after. But I know that God placed my sister and I with him, because HE felt we were the best ones for Bob at that moment. It grew my ability to care for others, be empathetic, and see how valuable it is to find eternal life through Jesus Christ our Savior.
The second one was my Dad. I was sitting in a hospital cafeteria enjoying food I had just bought. I sat with my sisters and husband and discussed a few serious things, laughed alittle, and sat in silence. Having no clue that he had died in an ambulance en-route to the hospital to where our family was waiting. We would not be made aware of his death for almost two hours, although we had checked in a few times at the hospital inquiring about him.
I was fortunate to spend almost every day with him in the last 14 days of his life here on earth. I had not spent that many consecuative days with him in my life since I was probably 8, I’m now 43. About an hour and a half before his death, I prayed outloud over him. I had no idea it would be the last time. I had no idea it would be the last time I’d feel his hug or kiss his cheek or hear him call me babe in saying goodbye. He was sick, but we thought we’d have a few more weeks or months and that the lung cancer would take him. But no, it was his heart. The one thing in the past 25 years to always keep us on the brink of seeing that side of death. Nor I or my siblings, or his companion were with him when he died, only EMT’s. I only hope he went quickly.
The day of his death I was able to spend about 45 minutes alone with my Dad. In those 45 minutes, I sat next to him with our legs dangling off the side of the bed, to relieve the pain he was having in his back. Those 45 minutes I will treasure. He shared how he was willing to let me care for him, stories of his childhood, and how proud he was of me, and how much he loved me. He held my hand, and allowed me to care for him.
The death of these two men have taken me on a journey that has been hard, beautiful, and grown my faith in God and my family. I played two different roles in these two men’s death, but both I was fortunate to be a caretaker. I value that and I will embrace that. I pray I can keep the memories of those last days with me, not to forget, as I know it will benefit me in my character and ability to help others in the future.
Grace is a gift,