Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Teacher You Dread

Death is a great teacher. I am sure there is someone quotable who said this. Certainly, they said it more eloquently than I. Death becomes like a magnifying glass. In its presence, as it begins to invade not only the body of the one on their final journey, but those who attend to them, relationships are examined under its lens.

My mother is on her final journey. Death has come to claim her. She is breathing heavier but still aided by oxygen. Loving grandchildren crowd around her. Occasionally one breaks down in tears. They are tears of sadness about their loss.

The one she shamelessly professed to favor refuses to leave her side.  She loving swabs her mouth with water. She refused to go last night for fear no one would swab her mouth. While she does not practice the faith taught to her by her mother or grandmother, she bought a Bible for her grandmother to keep at the Nursing Home. She even reads the difficult language of King James.

There is tension in the room as nurses come to attend the dying. The tension continues. Breathing is difficult; we wait for the next breath. We are learning patience.

There is tension among the family. Even in our silent vigil, the tension of family relationships is there. One is afraid to say what they want for fear of the anger of someone else. Issues of childhood creep into a room of adults waiting for death.  Death is examining our hearts. All of us are wanting. A thread easily severed holds some relationships; others can never be severed.

My relationship with the dying is no less complicated. My heart is being examined under the harsh magnification of death. I am the child she never really wanted to have. A truth that haunts me. It is truth but it is not the whole truth. As a mother, I know that even with the most inopportune pregnancy, when that baby comes into your arms all questions can be wiped away in a second.  

Our relationship could be difficult. The examination of death comes in close. It seems all the tears of the past have healed.  Perhaps that is part of what the scripture means when it says God will wipe away every tear.  

Death is teaching me that dying is a gift. It gives those we love the opportunity to let go of this life. We have the opportunity to say good bye. If we have faith, we can help them make this last journey. Yesterday I sang to my mother. I sang of heaven.  I think she is already seeing glimpses of Jesus. Her face tells me she is thinking of home. She is anxious to see Jesus, my dad and all those who went before.


  1. The angels joined you in your song!

  2. Hi Joyce,

    This is beautiful. I know I've learned alot not only from Jeff going home but from him being here. I pray for God's comfort for you now and in the days to come. I will share a poem that I got one day when I was crying and missing Jeff. Some other day tho. Right now you enjoy the time with your mother.


  3. Bless you Joyce for sharing. I was able to share the final week of my mother's life as well, singing to her, and watching as life ebbed away, a precious, emotion filled, Awe of God filled week. Praying for The Lord to be your comforter and strength.~ Linda


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