Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Precious Goodbye

I finally wrestled back control of the keyboard from that little stinker! Sorry about that. Sheesh. You give a kid an inch...
Today I wanted to talk about my Nana and Papa. This is a photo of me, my Nana & Papa, and Bug at 6 weeks old.
It was taken in their room at a nursing home. This is the room my Papa would pass away in. The room his soul would leave his body and make it's way up to meet his heavenly Father on November 9, 2007.
About a week before his passing, my mom, Bug and I went to see him. We knew he was not long for this world, and this would be the last time I would see him this side of heaven. Jay and my brother joined us after they got off work to say their goodbyes also.
By this time in his life, Papa was no longer speaking or opening his eyes much. When his eyes did open, they were vacant and the soul behind them was far off. So saying farewell to him was mostly putting a hand on his shoulder, kissing his cheek and saying goodbye out loud.
That night as we were leaving, I stood outside in the hallway. I was agitated and sad. It seemed so final, and yet here we were bustling around, gathering our things together like it was any other day. It was all so practical and unemotional--two things I am not. I said to Jay "So this is it? We're just going to leave?" And he replied "Yeah I guess. What more is there to do?" I said "shouldn't we pray or something?" to which he replied "sure, I'll go back in if you want to pray". A sudden stage-fright-like anxiety gripped me and I said "Well I'm not going to pray! I wouldn't know what to say!" Without missing a beat, Jay said simply "I'll pray for your Papa".
To understand the utter sweetness of this, you have to know that Jay was an agnostic when I met him. Almost an atheist. He didn't accept Christ by faith until one or two years into our marriage. A scientist at heart, one who needs physical evidence to prove a hypothesis correct, this was a big deal. Even though Jay had grown so much as a believer in the years leading up to this night, the path to Jesus isn't a straight line and just because Jay was walking with Jesus didn't mean he was instantly knowledgeable about the bible, comfortable with worship, or experienced at praying out loud. That's why, in that hallway, outside my Papa's room, I was floored by Jay's sincerity and willingness to be vulnerable for my Papa.
As a family we went back in to the room that night. I can remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. My Papa on his back in bed. My Nana propped up in the bed next to him. A lamp shedding dim light in a far corner. Everything quiet save for the far away noises of nurses working in the rooms adjacent. My mom, my brother, Jay and I all kneeled in a line by Papa's bed and we each layed our hands on him. My dad stood behind us holding Bug. Jay prayed a prayer that was simple and perfect, with gentle words for my Papa and supplication for our family's peace.
If for no other reason, I will love my husband forever for giving us that last most precious, most beautiful, ethereal moment to cherish.


Meghan said...

Ok, I'm crying. Thank you, Linda, for posting this. I can only remember your Nana and Papa a little bit, but from what I do, I really really loved them. I remember your Papa "getting my nose" all the time, he was so funny! Such sweet people. And what a great picture of them with you and Grace!

Dana said...

I too am crying! How we loved them and oh how I look forward to seeing them again one day! What a sweet, loving thing for Jeff to do and what a wonderful way to remember your last earthly visit with your Papa.
Thank you for sharing with us.

Dandy said...

I've started reading yoour blog from the beginning instead of my usual jumping around.

I've laughed and now I've cried.