Something occurred to me, as I sat and observed in the room where my step-father was, as Hospice calls it, actively dying.
There was the sense of deliberate peace, as I had the honor of aiding in upholding the final wishes of the man who had been the companion of my mother for the past 26+ years. A feeling that, although there had been conflicting deliberations regarding the long term care of this aging couple, transcended any need to feel sorrow or guilt or regret. In fact, I believe it was the greatest gift I could have bestowed upon him, this absence of doleful emotion. In the final analysis, he knew beyond a doubt that he was loved, cared for and left a legacy of values that included commitment to family and strong convictions.
Four generations of family members filled the hospital room, from the near 90 year old at the effect of a failing body, to the 3 month old who bears the name of his wife.
Events like this can’t help but change the atmosphere, the mood, the room, the people.
Some of us grew a little closer that day, some of us watched the unique responses of each visitor. Some people chose to stay away from this segment of the experience, still others drove several miles through several tears to get in their last physical good-byes. I learned there are no “rights” and “wrongs” when dealing with dying. We can only do what our hearts guide us to do.
One of the more poignant moments was when the dying man called for his wife, in his typical demanding fashion, and upon reaching his bedside, he tenderly told her he loved her. The following day, after he had slipped into a coma, his wife spoke no words to him, as she explained, “He knows my touch”.
We might not always understand relationships. We won’t always agree with decisions. But today, through this couple’s life together, we should understand something more than we ever have.