I sat by his side as he handed me something that only he could see in his mind. “Take this.” So I obediently took whatever it was he was envisioning and put it in my lap. His skin was so thin and bruised, it’s hard to believe it didn’t just brush off when I touched his hand.
His mind was in and out of clarity, but in one of his clearer moments, he saw me sitting across the room where I’d been all morning and proclaimed “Carly! You’re still here. I love you Carly.” Then the fog came and he said “I wish I would be able to make it to your wedding.” I laughed and reminded him we’d already done that and patted my protruding stomach and whispered, “we’re onto the next big thing now.” Oh what a joyful sound those words were to my heart. He still knew who I was and wanted me to know he loved me.
It’s amazing how many memories can be made from sitting by your grandpa’s side in the hospital for 10 hours as he hangs onto life after a heart attack the day before. From getting thrown up on (just a little because I wasn’t quite quick enough with the trash can 🙂 ) asking me if I was going to paint the grass, handing us things that none of us could see to take care of for him, and reminding us he loves us, I wouldn’t trade those 10 1/2 hours in that hospital room for anything.
My grandpa was 91, and I’m 24, so needless to say, he was quite a bit older than other grandpas to my generation. Because of that, I wasn’t extremely close to him, or my grandma (who at 90, is still alive, and on August 2 the two of them would have been married for 70 years). However, in those final moments of his life, it was my joy to serve him and take care of him alongside my mom.
Monday morning after I got the text message that he had a heart attack, I read Psalm 144 before James and I trekked to Aurora to see him one last time.
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.
O LORD, what is man that you regard him,
or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
his days are like a passing shadow.
As my grandfather slipped away before our eyes, I am so thankful he loved Jesus, so even as my eyes spilled tears, my heart completely rejoiced that God was his rock and his foundation. I watched him labor to breathe and wondered what it would be like to take a new breath in Heaven with the creator he has served for so many years on this earth. His hope was in Jesus, and mine is as well, so there is not much room for sadness in my heart because of the joy at the reunion that is taking place at the moment beyond our current vision.
Whenever my time comes to die, whether it be 91 or 25, I hope and pray that Jesus would be the center of my death as he is the center of my life. I pray that there would be much rejoicing at the thought of being with Jesus over any sadness at any length of life left unlived on earth.
“…as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me….” Philippians 1:20-22