The hospital is a crazy place of beginnings and endings. This one has a tradition of playing Lullaby over the public announcement system every time a new baby is born. The tune is in sharp contrast to the groans and grimaces of my father-in-law. Nearly a year to the day that my mother-in-law passed away, we are at the same hospital to sit with Dad.

We packed our bags with uncertainty. How long would we be away? How much money should we leave for the kids? Will they remember to carry their keys?

All these concerns were erased by compassionate kids who understood the importance of this trip. “Everything will be fine, Mom. Go do what you need to do.”

As I watch him sleeping I am reflecting on what a privilege it has been to know and love this precious man. He is very weak and virtually non-communicative.

He took a fall, which seems to be the beginning of the end for many of the elderly. It badly bruised him. The leg is bad and painful but debriding and grafting the wound would be much more painful. And so we sit with him and wait. He opens his eyes once in a while and makes a sound. We think he is trying to sing one of his favorite hymns.

I know he is thinking of his precious wife, Rose. It won’t be long until they are united again.

I sent him a card about a month ago thanking him. I have so much to thank him for. I told him I was grateful that he and my mom-in-law welcomed me so warmly nearly thirty years ago when I first met them. I hadn’t been a believer very long and was very nervous to meet these faithful people. They loved me immediately and always treated me like a beloved daughter. In fact, Rose used to call me her daughter-in-love.

I told him I was grateful for the example they had set for a Godly marriage and a faithful life. I hadn’t seen much of either before meeting them. Their commitment to one another and their unwavering faith over the years, even when faced with unthinkable tragedy, opened my mind and my heart to these possibilities for my own life.

Finally, I told him I was grateful for raising such a great son – my husband, Mark. A good husband and father produced another good husband and father and I have my father-in-law to thank for that.

Seeing him demonstrate such strength and steadiness through the years is strong in my memory as I watch him labor for each breath.

I’ve watched a few people die in my life and it isn’t always peaceful. Some go out with deep fear and uncertainty. Dad is straining somewhere between two realities, but there is absolutely no fear.

Perfect love cast out all fear long ago in the life of this precious man. I am so blessed to have known him and to have been loved by him.

Some stresses and strains wait for me to deal with when I get back home. I sent my kids a text encouraging them to all love and be at peace with each other. I told them that this life is far too short to waste. The time from the first Lullaby to the final groaning is shorter than we think.

It goes by in a flash.


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