Santa stop here

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Free at last

Yesterday, my kids and I made our final visit to room 1312 on the hospice unit where my father-in-law resided for his final days.  My youngest SIL (I'll call her "D") and her family were already there keeping vigil at the bedside.  My FIL had complained of pain in his left arm and was given morphine earlier in the day, and had been unresponsive ever since.  The nurse had explained that he was already showing signs of dying: his ears had relaxed (I'd never heard of that, but I guess it makes sense), his hands were growing cold, his heart rate was slowing down, etc. A glance in my FIL's direction let me know he wasn't "long for this world" as the old folks say.  D was dabbing at her eyes while her two young daughters sat on the other bed in the room quietly reading and drawing on paper.  What to say at a time like this?  I spoke gently to my FIL, letting him know we were present and that we loved him.  I imagined how dry his mouth must be since he was breathing with his mouth open and his lips appeared to be stuck to his teeth giving the appearance that he was bearing his teeth.  I wet a sponge-tipped swab with tap water and applied a little "mouth moisturizer" to it before gently rubbing it along his lips.  FIL responded to that since his lips were no longer stuck.  He puckered up a bit and tried to suck the moisture from the sponge.  Funny how that survival instinct just kicks in. His eyes opened briefly but were quite groggy and unfocused from the medication.  I know it was very difficult for my kids to see their grandfather like this, but I'm glad they were with me.
I read Psalm 27 to my FIL and almost couldn't finish between the tears distorting my vision and the fact that I didn't have my glasses with me.  I held his balled up hand, rubbed his emaciated shoulder and kissed his cool cheek for what I figured would be the last time.
My plan was to take the kids to my mom's  house so they could attend mass with her and then tell my husband about the latest development and return to the hospital with him after he made it in from work.  The hubs chose to avoid the hospital and remember his dad from our visit the day before when he was at least a little responsive, so we didn't return to the hospital.  My SIL "P" called just after 10 p.m. to let us know that Famous Granddad had quietly slipped away surrounded by a miniature lit Christmas tree, quiet music and several family members. All choked up but trying to keep my voice steady, I relayed the information to my husband who simply acknowledged my words, finished watching whatever game he was watching on TV and went to bed.  Thankfully, I didn't have to make all of the calls.  I don't think I could have if I wanted to.  I'm okay as long as I don't have to say it out loud.  I called my sister and my mom and let them know, swallowing around a lump that felt like a walnut wedged in my throat.  Then my kids and I prayed the Rosary before turning in for the night.  I know the Bible tells us not to mourn like those who have no hope when we lose a loved one, but hot tears are still stinging my eyes now that everyone has gone to bed and my house is quiet .   I'll close with the words to a song a lady from my church used to sing so beautifully.  The words are fitting for the occasion.  I'm guessing the title is "I'm Free" but I do not know to whom to credit the lyrics:

I'm free, praise the Lord I'm free!
I'm no longer bound;
There are no more chains holding me;
My soul is resting
And it's a blessing
Praise the Lord, Hallelujah
I'm free!

Good night and thank you for your continued prayers.  Until next time...


  1. Heaven is our home... Thoughts and prayers are with you today...

  2. Oh Lord, today we begin to celebrate the anticipation of Your arrival in Bethlehem. As it was with Mary, so it is with us. Lord it's been a long, hard and difficult road we've had to trek. Give us the comfort in knowing that we've nearly arrived to that blessed town, wherein our loved ones wait for us with Christ.

    Lord, you know that the world offers us little shelter, though we are weary and tired. Guide us by your shining star to the shelter of the Holy Stable, where the animals breath may keep us warm, where a bed waits and Mary longs to cradle us her arms and the angels have already begun their lullaby.

    As we celebrate Mass this season, let us call to mind the meaning of 'Bethlehem', that is, 'The House of Bread'. Fill us with the bread that comes from heaven as we anticipate the Heavenly banquet without end.


    May you sleep peacefully beside Christ in your Holy Mother's arms.
    May you eat your fill in the house of bread and drink from the well of living water forever.
    May Joseph guard you as his very own. That you may rest in childlike trust and security.
    May the angel's songs fill your heart with overwhelming, endless joy as you celebrate this festive season with Jesus.
    May God shower you with a crown of gold, sweet smelling perfumes and oils, as you bask in the starry light of endless Day.
    Finally, may all of heaven rejoice over you and may God reward you for all that you've done, for who you are and simply because he loves you.

    Ora Pro Nobis!

  3. Praying for you and your family Eastlyn. The important thing is that you know where your FIL is... at least you know that someday -- whenever that may be -- you WILL get to see him again, even if not here on this earth.

    Always remember that one of the reasons that Jesus came is "to comfort all who mourn" (Isaiah 61:2), and "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). May these Scriptures fill your heart and mind with peace as you grieve.

    Miss S.

  4. You are in my prayers. He was a loved man to be surrounded by family in his last hours. Your description of his final hours is so raw I was choked up just reading it. But it is also beautiful. The Christian understanding of death on this earth helps us to move forward when someone leaves us. I will pray for your FIL as well that he is united with Jesus!

  5. oh Eastlyn, you and your family are in my prayers... May the comfort of the Spirit rest with you all through this time and fill the emptiness within.


  6. what a beautiful post, so perfectly written. Such emotion...thoughts and prayers with you and your family during this time

  7. Oh Eastlyn! You and your family are in my thoughts! Look up at the sky tonight and think of this: "Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."

  8. I'm sorry to read prayers are with you and your family.

  9. Thanks for your comments on my "cottage" pie. I'm so glad that I finally know that now. I've had a couple people tell me if it's beef then it's cottage and if it's lamb then it shepards but I never knew that before!
    You and your family will be in my prayers.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss! My prayers are with you and your family.