Today marks 3 years since my Dad has gone HOME…3 years he’s been with Jesus…3 years I’ve been without him.
My brother-in–law’s mother, Marceil, writes for and edits a newspaper in a small town in Minnesota and 3 years ago she wrote this article. I read it when it was first written and then found it again a few weeks ago when I was going through some of my old emails. I think it’s beautiful. The 11 days that we spent in the hospital were painful and frightening to say the least but it’s a time that I don’t want to forget. God used those 11 days to grow me and change me. He used those days to strengthen my faith and dependency on Him so that when He did take my Dad home, I could whole-heartedly say “He gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
A hospital in Burbank, California has a nice tradition of playing a lullaby over the P.A. system every time a baby is born. It brings some joy to those in the hospital who hear it. A reminder that a new life is beginning.
In the same hospital, almost a dozen family members gather in a small room, around the bed of their husband, father, son. They’ve looked for a miracle, but it is not to be. Their faith doesn’t waiver. They know God still performs miracles, and they pray for one; but in this case, God has chosen not to grant it.
The family members take turns speaking about what this man has meant to them—sharing stories and memories. Usually, only two at a time can visit in the CCU rooms, but the staff says nothing and lets the group gather. They all know time is drawing near to do what has to be done.
It was less than two weeks ago that everything was “normal”. It was a typical day, with “to-do lists” to make and appointments to keep. He had just left his church office, even leaving his Bible open to continue his study, planning to return to the room shortly. But then, everything stopped when he had an aneurysm, or bleeding stroke—whichever they determine it was (not that there’s much difference). He never spoke again, nor opened his eyes. Not on the ride to the hospital in the ambulance; not during the earthquake that shook the Los Angelesarea as the helicopter was landing and not during the helicopter ride.
Although he never spoke again, his life spoke volumes. As family, friends and colleagues arrived at the hospital or called to show their support, some from out of town or out of state. They all prayed—together and alone. They talked about good memories and how they had been touched, in different ways, by this man.
The end of this month would mark his 58th birthday, and, on the same day, the 28th anniversary of the first sermon he delivered to his congregation—his first and only pastorate. His children, wife and other family members have spent time with him, visiting two by two, during the long week and a half. They’ve practically taken up residence at the hospital, especially during the daytime hours, trying to catch a movement, an expression, any sign of hope. They talk to him and pray for him.
His son-in-law was able to spend some time alone with his spiritual mentor. He thanked him for all the guidance he had given him over the past year-and-a-half. He told him he was thankful for the good example he had lived, of what a Christian husband and father should be. He thanked his mentor for the beautiful, Godly daughter he raised and gave to him that wedding day almost 18 months ago. . . a woman he feels he doesn’t deserve, he admitted to his father-in-law.
The family doesn’t grieve for him, but rather for themselves and how they will miss him. How everything changed in the blink of an eye, and they can’t go back and undo that—they would, if they could. He will be in a better place when he goes, or perhaps he is, already. He’s not really lying there, but just his earthly dwelling—his shell. He knew where he would spend eternity. . . not a doubt in his mind. So his family doesn’t shed tears for him—he’ll be so much better off in his new, perfect home.
Even though he hasn’t yet graduated from Christian college, the son-in-law will take part in leading a memorial service in about a week . . . for his father-in-law. It will be held at the same church where, a year-and-a-half earlier, this pastor/mentor/friend had performed the marriage ceremony of his own daughter and this son-in-law.
Now, as the family gathers in a room where the rhythmic sounds of the machines and monitors can be heard, they will soon disconnect the ventilator—the life support that has been keeping him alive. They’ve come to say their good-byes. . . to pray . . .and sing a few of his favorite hymns. It’s a blessed time, and in the midst of all this comes what has become a familiar melody . . .A lullaby is played over the PA system . . . and so goes the Circle of Life.
–Glen Jackson – 1950-2008–