Monday, January 16, 2012
Lessons Learned from Death
Last night, my Grandfather passed away. He is quite an amazing man. I could write chapters on all that he accomplished in life but - for now - that will have to wait.
I want to write about what we have learned from Death.
Saturday morning, we received a text from my Mother telling us that Grandpa was going downhill quickly. This came as rather a shock. Though his body and mind were aging, we didn't necessarily think he was at Death's door. That all changed last week. It quickly became evident that his time was at hand.
As soon as we heard that hospice had been called in, we hurriedly dressed our little crew and took them up to see Grandpa Saturday morning. When we arrived, we were surprised to see him in a hospital bed in his room. He had been medically sedated for the past few days to control the pain he was experiencing. However, when we came in the room, he responded to each one of us. He is famous for calling each one of his daughters/granddaughters "dear" while referring to every male posterity as "son." And so it was. We each received our term of endearment and he kept looking around muttering "oh boy. oh boy." He was so happy to see his grandchildren.
As he drifted in and out of coherency, we stood by his side, telling him all the things we loved about him. As we stood together, I looked at my children. I was amazed how comfortable they were with Death. They knew what was happening and they weren't afraid to witness it. Given our alarming discovery and circumstances, that is a miracle.
I watched with amazement as my Gracie cupped Grandpa's weak hand between her own as my Emma rubbed his feet. They were administering to him with so much love and tenderness. My mind immediately took me back to almost exactly a year ago.
Despite the shock and terror of finding Bennett cold and stiff in his crib, David and I felt divinely inspired in how to handle our situation. Even in the early hours of realization, we knew we could not change the situation. We felt - however - that the way we dealt with it would mean EVERYTHING to our family.
How right we were.
Because of that, we as a family spent as much time with Bennett's body as possible after his Death. In that time, my children became very comfortable and familiar with the effects of Death on the body. We told them that - though this was Bennett's body or shell - the Bennett we knew and loved was in Heaven. They needn't be alarmed that he was cold, stiff and unresponsive. Because - when they would see him again - he would not be. He would be the same Bennett they tickled, cuddled, knew and loved.
They listened. They heard. And they believed.
And so - not even a year later - when their great grandfather who they cherish passes away, they are not alarmed by this change. They have walked this road before. They love him in Death as they did Life. And they know we will be together again.
And - until then - Grandpa will be playing catch with our Bennett.