It was nearly 5:36 PM. The sun had set in the western sky, and the temperature dropped almost 20 degrees from its 6:00 AM high. I sat to make a near nightly FaceTime call to my parents. I powered on my iPad, noticed only 38% battery life remaining.
“Hi,” answered my mother.
“Hey, mom. How are you?”
“Dad is out walking Skip. But, listen,” she interrupted, “I have to tell you something.”
Having noticed seriousness to her look, “Ok,” I affirmed. Living with an 86-year-old dementia patient has its challenges, with trying to keep your sanity being challenge number 1.
“Last night dad and I decided to go to bed about 8:30 [PM]. After a few minutes, I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to go to my recliner and read. A few minutes later, Dad started talking.”
“Wow,” I said, relieved upon hearing nothing major, for 86-year-old’s commonly talk in their sleep.
“Wait,” she interrupted. “I heard a woman’s voice talking back.“
“What?” unsure what to say.
“Yeah,” briefly pausing, “I got up, tried to sneak up to the open bedroom door, glanced just past the door. The talking stopped. There was no one there.“
“Hmm,” I breathed. “Amazing.”
“Yes, but,” she interrupted again. “I went back to my recliner, started reading. Moments later, Dad started talking. And then, the woman’s voice returned. After some minutes, Dad said, ‘I love you.’ The woman’s voice replied, ‘I love you too.‘”
While it’s hard to confirm, I wonder if his mother visited my father.
After working in the hospital field for all these years, I know it’s not unusual for the dying to have visions of someone already passed. As David Kessler, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s longtime assistant noted, the dying are often visited by a mother or father. Kessler hypothesized parents die before their children to lead the way when it’s their child’s turn.
Comforting my mother, I noted such stories are common, meaning, a lot of people have such visions. In many ways, these visitors offer tremendous peace, not only for the patient but also for relatives. These helpers affirm another life beyond our earthly borders. In my industry, this stage or phase is called Nearing Death Awareness.
Nearing Death Awareness often includes visions of loved ones or spiritual beings, although they don’t necessarily signal death’s imminence. It’s a path, a path we cannot lead, but a path we can help them walk.
Between the fragile beauty of fire, water, air, and wind, there is no discord. Between the supple silence of life and death, there is only harmony — no two elements of nature conflict. In every loss, there is gain. And in every gain, there is a loss. When such visitors arrive at our door, we may lose this world yet gain a unity of love and spirit that flows throughout the universe. My father will become part of this beauty — a universe full of love, full of peace.
At the end what remains is not riches, not structures of stone but remembrances of those few people we joined in spirit.
Categories: Faith & Doubt