Resident shares his last farewell
Thursday, Dec 26, 2013 06:00 am
A year or so ago, a beautiful angel, a messenger from God, asked me to write this. She thought it may be an encouragement to others approaching a similar situation.
Her thought was generated by medical specialists saying I had minimal chance of making it home alive from the hospital due to medical circumstances.
Two weeks later, they placed me in a palliative care program as I had minimal life expectancy. This beautiful angel asked I write what it is like to face imminent death as a Christian. This is an attempt at that endeavour.
The first hurdle was handling the emotion of leaving my wonderful wife and family behind. It would be an easy transformation from life to death if we could all depart this world hand in hand. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that is a decision only God will make.
As with most grief, all five stages come into play with the final stage of acceptance happening in its own time. The battle with denial and depression were difficult.
Initially, I found comfort in knowing the Kingdom we walk into as we leave this life. Jesus spoke the words, “He who believes, though he dies, yet shall he live.” “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
I have a picture in mind of a meadow, flowers and grass that are near waist high. There is a fence of trees just this side of the horizon. Closer than the trees is a chapel of white with blue shingles. The blue has a hue just a shade darker than the sky so its presence is noticeable. There are images all about of loved ones long ago transformed and there is the saviour dressed in white, in the centre with hands outstretched to welcome me into His Kingdom.
Later came the comfort of knowing God has a plan for my wife for the years to come. It is not easy watching this wonderful caregiver having to come to terms with life on a day-to-day basis.
We live day to day with the appreciation we have one more day together as we know each hour could be our last. The joy comes again as we have time alone with God and know our lives are in his hand.
A difficult aspect of all this is those around see me active and they question, “Is the medical diagnosis wrong?”
It is not. The wrong physical movement could spell the end in a flash. It is a given that going to sleep could be the end of my time on earth.
There is a difficulty in wanting to camp with my grandchildren and go for extended treks with them. I enjoy the memories of long walks of the past and treasure the memory of a five-year-old granddaughter who last year, not long after the diagnosis, holding my hand on a mile long hike, saying, “Don’t worry grandpa, I will take care of you.”
The palliative care program we have here in Airdrie is incredible by virtue of the staff and the aspect of never again having to visit a hospital or a doctor. The care nurse sees me each week. There is also the adult support program at the Urgent Care Centre. Two days a week, I get to attend. The facilitators of the program are no less than remarkable in their efforts to make the days interesting. The fellowship with other attendees is comforting also. Not enough credit can be given the volunteers who work with the program. They are all remarkable people.
This Christmas season the shopping was done somewhat early; the tree and ornaments went up on Nov. 1 and we enjoyed our Christmas dinner on Dec. 1.
Yes, there are many times of melancholy, which are not enjoyable, but I sit at the hand of Jesus and find refreshment in knowing all is well; He will take care of my family after I am gone; He is taking care of us now.
I still have the beautiful angel to comfort and give encouragement as needed. The beautiful angel is my daughter-in-law; a true gift from God.
If you are reading this and are missing the comfort of the Saviour, it is an easy road: He said, “Come all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble at heart and you will find rest for your soul, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night”.
Risen Son Ministries