Thanks to many prayers, some caffeine, a few phone calls and lots of good music I made the ten hour drive to NC safely. Then it was straight to the hospital where the truth of that opening statement began to sink into my heart all over again.
Dad Hawley has rallied some but everyone continues to take turns staying with him through the night. Mom Hawley takes the day shift, arriving at dawn and leaving just before dark. (We all know she can't keep up this schedule but prying her away right now would be impossible.)
He sleeps quite a bit even though they've pulled back on the pain meds. His vital signs remain weak but steady. And he talks occasionally. Yesterday he informed Frank's youngest brother that everyone had left him up there without any money at all. Terry put a $10 bill in the pocket of his hospital gown.
Then there was the midnight "conversation" Dad had with his own mother who passed away over 30 years ago. Frank sat silently in the dark; just listening. Not daring to interrupt as he knows so well about the "thin curtain" fluttering between our world and eternity. We've observed many loved ones catching glimpses of Heaven as they approach the threshold.
I think Dad is a little bit like Paul the apostle who said, "I want to go on to Heaven because I know the joys waiting for me there. But I also want to be here for you. Such a dilemma!"
Kristin and I were able to put finishing touches on Mom's little apartment. (Actually, Kristin worked tirelessly to unpack, sort, and arrange what everyone had spent days packing. I just came on the scene in time for the fun stuff.)
We dashed around town all day Thursday comparing prices and collecting necessary odds and ends. Frank came by long enough to put nails in the walls for us. Pictures were hung, rugs and throw pillows arranged, kitchen/closets/bath organized. The finishing touch was, of course, curtains hung at the windows. They provided the pop of color and polish needed to complete each room.
When Mom had left that morning, she had to carefully wind her way through a maze of chaos. Boxes stacked high against each wall; bits and pieces of stuff everywhere. She was so frustrated and anxious; she told Kristin, "This will NEVER feel like home!"
Thursday evening she stepped into a totally organized and decorated haven of peace. She stopped at the door and began to cry. "It looks just like a picture in a magazine," she whispered.
Mom was totally surprised. She had no idea what joy and loveliness was waiting for her as she stepped through the doorway that evening. We couldn't have been happier and may have shed a few tears, as well.
Lorrie (another sister-in-law) was simultaneously trying to help move Mom Hawley and her newlywed daughter. Getting Mom settled will be a huge relief to all our family there in the town. Now everyone can focus on Dad's care.
In the middle of it all, we received news that a dear member of our church named Bonnie had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse and in a matter of hours stepped through the curtain from this world into eternity. We were in total shock as I had just spent time with her before coming up and thought she was doing better.
As the Lord would have it, Frank just happened to be on the phone with her family when she transitioned. They put him on speaker phone and he was able to pray with them.
We will be heading back to FL for her memorial. It won't be easy to leave our family here but knowing the truth about the "thin curtain" gives us comfort:
- We will see Bonnie again!
- When Dad steps through, he too will be more alive at that moment than he ever has been here.
- Christ made this assurance possible for all of us who simply believe.
- Living well here (forgiving, loving, releasing things) prepares us for our future there.
- Like Mom, we have no idea what joys are waiting for us all on the other side of the curtain called Life.
- Walking with Christ as our guide is the ONLY way to fully live in this world!