Death is an agonizing and a tear-stained mystery. Some believe that when we die we are transported to Heaven or to some other dimension, while others believe that death is the end to our existence. I stand in the former category. But when you stare death in the face, sitting at the bedside of a loved one, it is only the fact that you are about to lose someone that you care about that truly matters at that moment.
My father-in-law, Stan, died back in July. We were shocked when we received the call that he was taken to the hospital on the Fourth of July. Not thinking it was anything major, only due to the extreme heat that we have been having in the Chicagoland area, we thought that he would perhaps spend a few days in the hospital and then return home to continue treatment.
But it was his heart. Damaged beyond repair. The doctors at first wanted to operate, but then decided that option had to be taken off the table since my father-in-law probably would not even survive that. Being at his bedside, a blurred mix of emotions, along with tubes down his throat, IV’s sticking out of his arm, beeping machines, we were numb.
My husband’s one joy and comfort at that time was having the foresight to have us visit him the previous weekend, which would prove to be the final time we got to see him awake and talking. It would have been devastating if my husband had not listened to that small voice telling him to go and see his dad.
But if you have never seen anyone die before, it is a very unsettling experience. This was my first time beside a dying loved one’s side. And the memory of that will remain with me forever. When the doctors had to remove the balloons that was keeping his blood pumping throughout his weakening body, with my husband’s consent(something he had to wrestle fiercely with, not wanted to let his father go), and would be any time now that he would be taken from this life.
It was the gurgling, the eyes rolled to the back of his head; the way my father-in-law struggled for precious air, that will haunt me. But as my husband read from the Bible to his father, he could see the Lord take his father to be with him. And then his heart stopped beating. In numbed disbelief we watched as the monitors flat-lined. My father-in-law had passed from this life into the next. But I take heart, as does the rest of my family. For we know in our hearts that, yes, we will see him again. And that gives us lasting comfort for the months of grief ahead.