Easter morning, fair skies, beautiful sunshine! Seemingly the perfect day. But this was not like Easter mornings my family and I had experienced in the past. My 52-year-old husband and the father of our three adult children was in the Hospice Care Unit of our local downtown hospital. His body which had been vibrant, moving, and muscular was now listless and reduced to a skeletal figure.
There was no longer verbal language. What was left of life communicated itself through shallow breaths and uneasy moans and groaning. Death was not coming easily. Systems were shutting down, but his strong heart did not want to let go.
I was keeping vigil at his bedside while two of our children were fulfilling their Sunday morning church responsibilities. Our son was working in what our church called ‘media,’ making sure microphones and lighting were adjusted so as not to detract from the atmosphere of worship. Our older daughter was serving as pianist in another church. Our younger daughter was in college out of town but managed to make the drive home and back every week-end in order to support me during this burdensome time.
I lifted a prayer to God while I waited for them to join me. “O, God. I ask that you come quickly, even on this Hallelujah Day of rejoicing, to escort this imperfect one into the perfection of your kingdom. May he leave the flesh of earth behind and soar to a place of peace, comfort, and reunion with the God of his salvation. But, Lord, if not today, one day soon. Amen.”
Around 6:00 p.m. our children and I were in an outer room when the nurse told us to return to his bedside as he was passing. When we knew he was gone we sang, “We are standing on holy ground, and I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now. We are standing in his presence on holy ground.” (WE ARE STANDING ON HOLY GROUND, Words and Music by Geron Davis)
Life as we know it on this earth has hunger and thirst which must be satisfied for the physical body to survive. But we also have spiritual hunger and thirst. We fill that void of our soul by feasting on the Word of God.
In the days before my husband entered hospice care, he asked me to bring his crimson personal-sized New International Version Bible to the hospital. I later found the notes and Scripture references he had written on its end leaves. One of these Bible verses is: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 Holy Bible NIV). A mortal being had discovered the Way to immortality and filled his hunger and thirst for God. He feasted on God’s Word. And he left behind a written testimony to the faith and trust in his heart.