I woke up to this text today: “Good morning, friend. Sun comes up, it’s Wednesday morning…”. Small gifts come, like these. It feels like we’ve been here for months and then I realize it’s not even been three full days. People come and visit, each visit a gift too, a reminder of how much love there is. Food comes, so much food. My favorite offering so far came from a family friend who brought a bottle of wine, a bottle of hand soap and a giant package of toilet paper. Practical and hilarious.

Yesterday the church choir came and sang to him us for almost an hour. They started with Morning has Broken. And I sang the first verse with them. As the second verse started, ever so gently the choir master whispered “parts” and this lullaby morning song opened into something wholly other, the familiar song, the glory of a magnificent choir in four part harmony, the surround of home and nature, the comfort of church, this strange thing that I’ve known all my life, holding us in this liminal moment. Tears took my voice, as they will,  and that too was a gift.

My last conversation with my father was a week ago today. It included many things, some of which are uniquely mine and I hold them in my heart. But a memory I cherish, was watching him eat. We’ve been given the gift of remarkable sitters to be with him during the day and the night. Kimmis, a young, strong new father, stays with my papa during the day. And they have formed this lovely relationship (don’t get me started on him crying yesterday when we explained that we weren’t going to feed or give Papa any more water. Such care and love, even in this new relationship. Today he’s bringing his 7 week old son to meet my father.) But last week, Kimmis brought up lunch for Papa. Soup and cantaloupe. And after every bite, my father would stop and say “it’s just so delicious. Thank you. I’m so grateful.” After every single bite. His gratitude, a gift that I’m holding and hoping to reflect back to him this day and in the years to come.

This morning his breathing is more labored. We move, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, closer to the end of his labor. And it is like labor. No one can do it for him. The last step, the last leap, his alone to make.

Mandy sang this for him, I joined and it’s now become the lullaby offering I can give. The internet doesn’t do it justice. A song from Iona, appropriate as the veil is very thin, even now.

Don’t be afraid My love is stronger
My love is stronger than your fear
Don’t be afraid My love is stronger
And I have promised, promised to be always near

10 thoughts on “Vigil

  1. I preached at Mom’s funeral. Didn’t know if I could but wanted to give her a loving and personal send off. I had to give her one last thank you for closure. It’s such a precious, terrible time. Many blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

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