On Sunday December 23, I was given a gift I will forever treasure.
On the day when all my siblings, all our spouses, all our children, and our parents were to be together to celebrate Christmas and family, I was not there. Neither were my oldest brother, Ken and his wife, Joy.
We were 45 miles away, together. Together in a small room at the nursing facility where Joy’s dad, Lloyd, had been living at for the past 3 years. Together with Lloyd. We were here, on this day of family celebration, because the call had come that Lloyd’s life would soon be over. I can’t imagine any place I would have rather been.
In that little room, lights low, voices low, we talked, we laughed, we prayed, we read scripture. Sometimes just sat, silent tears running down our faces.
At some point we went from talking, laughing, crying, to just reading, aloud, from Lloyd’s well worn Bible. As we took turns reading, Lloyd’s breathing would slow, and he seemed to relax. Several times, as we read, his breathing seemed to stop, but whenever we ceased reading, waiting to see if he had slipped away, he would take a huge labored breath and begin to breathe again. The nurses came in to see how he was doing. Ken, Joy and I stepped out into the hallway.
It seemed as if Lloyd wanted to be read into Heaven, for as long as we were reading, he was not breathing, but when we stopped, he became less calm, his breathing began and was labored.
We stepped back into the room, but this time we didn’t sit down, Ken picked up the Bible, Joy stood at her dad’s head, I held Lloyd’s hand. Ken began to read, first Psalm 46, and then Romans, chapter 8.
As he read, Lloyd watched him, and as Ken finished the passage, Lloyd closed his eyes, relaxed his hands and went home for Christmas.