Just a day after my dad’s funeral, I sat listening to my husband, Jerry, speak at a Christian conference. He told the story of the last moments of my dad’s life, just as he had at my dad’s funeral. A friend beside me, visibly moved by Jerry’s words, turned to me and said, “I haven’t read about this.” She thought she’d missed a blog post along the way.
“I haven’t written about it,” I responded.
Jerry had asked if he could share the story. He hadn’t been there at the moment of my dad’s passing though he had spent many days in the hospital room with me. He relied on the accounts my sister and I had passed along.
Why hadn’t I written about it myself?
I alluded to it in my last post. For weeks, we had watched my dad’s decline. Hard. He had been seemingly comatose for a couple of days with his eyes partially open in a fixed stare. At the moment of his passing, he closed them, and laughed, not audibly, but his expression was that of laughter, and then with one last breath, his spirit left him. I told my husband, that I felt I was looking into the face of someone who was looking at Jesus.
After all the heart wrenching sorrow of the preceding days, at the very end God gave us what the psalmist called, “a sign of his goodness,” a sacred moment to hold close to our hearts until we ourselves see Him face to face. He gave us holy laughter.
Remember what happened after the shepherd’s visit to Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus? The shepherds went off telling everyone about what had happened, but Luke writes, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
That’s what I’ve been doing, pondering in my heart those last moments with my dad, how he left this earth laughing.
I lacked the words to describe the event. I looked up the synonyms for the word sacred, which include, venerable, divine, consecrated, inviolate, sacrosanct, blessed, consecrated, and hallowed.
I didn’t want to diminish the holiness of what I witnessed by using inappropriate words. But what I’ve come to realize is that the experience transcended words. It is the same thing I felt when I saw my children’s faces for the first time. The joy went beyond explanation―an experience in this life, which has the stamp of the eternal. Many would describe their salvation experience this way. About what C.S. Lewis wrote in his autobiography, "Surprised by Joy," it is written that, "This Joy was so intense for something so good and so high up it could not be explained with words."
So, like Mary, we are left to ponder these things in our hearts.
In these last few days, as I have written thank you cards and rehearsed all that has happened in the past week, I have been in continual wonder at the precious gift God gave us at 7:25 in the evening Saturday before last.
Friends, perhaps you, too, can recall times when heaven and earth intersected, when you caught a glimpse beyond the mist. And I’m sure if you do, like me, what you feel more than anything is gratitude not to have missed it.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us” (ICorinthians 13:12 The Message).