Silent PeacePosted: March 30, 2014 | |
Hard to believe how fast time passes, but tomorrow is eight years since Dad took in, let out his last breath.
Since that Friday evening March 31, 2006, I’ve learned a lot about death. Shy of two years after Dad left this earth, my husband died. Then a year and a half later, my mom.
I’ve told these stories many times, but I think they need to be told and re-told, and I think they bring comfort. Here is what I believe based on what I have experienced.
The person who crosses through the veil between this realm and the heavenly realm of the after-life can visit with his loved ones and even take care of them for some time after death. He doesn’t just go away and close the veil door behind him.
A few weeks after Dad died, I went back home to visit my mother. After a six and a half hour drive, I pulled into her driveway, and my tire went flat right then and there. It would have been a blowout on the interstate, and I would have been stranded and possibly involved in an accident. Dad? I thought so. He was taking care of me. But even more compelling — and funny — was the night before I left my mother’s house to go back home.
I was packing my stuff, and I could not find the dog’s favorite pillow. Mama and I looked under furniture in every room of that house, and it was nowhere. I told her I’d just buy another one at PetSmart. It was cheap enough, no big deal. And we all went to bed. The next morning I woke up and there was the pillow in the middle of the room in plain vision. No explanation. You have to know my father to understand this. He didn’t like any unnecessary spending of money. He would have been appalled that I would pay three dollars for another white fleece pillow!
You may think these are silly little things, but they’re not to the person who has experienced loss.
My experience at the moment of my husband’s death is beautiful and telling, and I tell it often, too. I was sitting in the waiting room at Vanderbilt Medical Center, and he was in his third surgery in a thirty-seven-hour period. I was trembling all over. I knew this was critical.
I looked up at the ceiling lights. I felt a warmth approach me, soak in to me, literally wrap around me and cover me, and I felt a peace like I had never known. Then I heard my husband say, “I’m going, I’m going.”
It was my husband coming to me to tell me he was dying.
This takes on more meaning, however, when you consider the last two lines of our wedding vows we wrote: “I want to endure all things with you. I want to walk home to God with you.”
He was walking home to God. Was God, the Holy Spirit, walking with him at that point? Was I in the presence of God? Were he and God fulfilling that holy promise to me? It was a holy peace.
I don’t have the answer. You can decide. It doesn’t matter. I was in communion with something heavenly and holy and powerful, a force that gave me silent peace.
Many times during that first year I felt my husband’s presence. I always knew he was there with me. And because I asked for him to, he came to me briefly on the fifth-year anniversary of his death. I could write a book on the ways he spoke to me and came to me! Oh wait, I did. (You’ll have to read my book to know more…Remember the Dragonflies: A Memoir of Grief and Healing).
All this to say, I learned in experience and not just by faith that there is life after death. We do go somewhere. At least my husband said he was going. And death is not the kind of finality that is abrupt. We can see, communicate with, and comfort our close ones; we can find ways to cross that veil and touch our precious families. Sometimes they may be aware; sometimes they may not be. I believe all this, and I am counting on it.
So now, here’s to Dad. Thanks for holding that tire together and thanks for finding that pillow. And thanks for all the many ways you have spoken to me and taught me things — alive on earth and alive in heaven.
I will always remember that final Friday at sunset as my sister and I stood in the front yard and watched the hearse take my dad away from our family home. Yes, the sun went down. And then the sun came up.
Life is that way.