Martha Yarborough DiPalma
© Copyright 2019 by Martha Yarborough DiPalma
“Happy Father’s Day!” I was met by silence. I took his hand and shook it gently. I checked to see that he was still breathing but just not responding.
A few minutes later, my three children, their spouses and all of their children filled the room, bringing their cards, presents, hand-made pictures, and “Happy Father’s Day” wishes. Still no response from Papa. The room filled with silence and sorrow.
All that first year I had unconsciously tucked away the sadness of that day. Now suddenly I knew that he had heard me--he had heard all of us! This is not a fantasy. A nurse had told me that even in a state of unconsciousness a patient could hear. Often people have returned from unconsciousness to report having heard conversations by family members and medical staff. There are even statements that the last sense to leave before death is the hearing.
Somehow, I had never connected the dots, but now that hidden sadness was gone, and my heart felt lighter. What a sweet gift from the Lord. However, He wasn’t through giving.
The kids had been good about getting me out of the room every day. On that Saturday before Father’s Day, we had all left for a swim at the beach, to watch the sunset and then share a dinner to celebrate my son’s birthday.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call from a friend who mentioned that while we were gone that day, he had come by. He said that he and Mike had had a great visit. He also had been surprised how tightly Mike had held his hand. When I told him that he was probably the last person on earth to talk with Mike, he said that he had noticed how he seemed to be fading in and out.
How sweet of the Lord to have someone there with Mike as he was entering the final stages of his conscious life on earth and was not alone! Come to think of it, he wasn’t alone in his final hours either. Previously, I had asked one of the Hospice nurses what to expect at the end. She had said that in her experience patients often took three last breaths.
On the next Saturday evening, I had mentioned to my brother and sister-in-law who were in the room with me that Mike’s breathing was slowing down. My sister-in-law asked me if I wanted her to get the nurse. After she left the room, and as I waited for their return, I held Mike’s hand. He took a breath, and after what seemed like forever, another one. Finally, he took his last breath. The nurse came in and confirmed that he was gone. I had asked the Lord to let me be with Mike as he passed from this life, and He granted my request.
It was 9:00 p.m. Peacefully--quietly he was gone. I was at peace and in awe. I called the children, not knowing that our son had been struggling all day to get back to our room, having had a bout with a stomach bug. After having spent every day for the past two weeks with his dad, he had missed saying goodbye by just a few minutes. As Mike entered heaven, the girls were on their way for the night to be with their families.
Two nurses came in and covered Mike with a large American flag.
Six years later I’m remembering my husband who taught me not only how to live but also how to die.
Thank You, Lord, for promising never to leave us or forsake us, for comforting me and reminding me that nothing can separate us from Your love.
”You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, ‘Blessed be Your Name.’”