Friday, July 26, 2013

The Beauty in Dying

I'm sharing this post from 2013 on Stephanie's blog,

No one really wants to talk about dying, I know this. I have even renamed the title of this post over and over and tried to keep the word out of it. I can't figure out how. I certainly don't want to turn anyone away or add to anyone's grief when reading this post but please bear with me if you will. Sometimes, inspiration can be so...random. While I was outside walking with my dogs a few days ago I noticed these two leaves still attached to what looked like a dead branch on one of my Red Tip bushes. The color was striking—so bright—almost glowing like neon. That part of the bush was dying, yet the leaves were becoming so beautiful.

Most of the time when we think about death or dying, I doubt we compare it with beauty. All death is certainly not beautiful. Not at all. But there are times it can be. Let me explain.

My dad was nearly ninety-one when the cancer that was running rampant through his body took its toll. I got "the call" from my sister while I was at work that day in May of 2002. Within the hour I was on the road—Mebane, North Carolina to Dayton, Ohio—almost 500 miles. Could I possibly get there in time? It was nearly midnight when I reached the hospice home and my mom and two of my sisters were there to greet me. Dad was still hanging on...just barely. His "baby" had made it back to see him one last time.  I was able to speak to him. I kissed his clammy forehead and held his sweaty hand. His eyes were open but I don't really think he was seeing me. Another hour passed and he was still hanging on. I remember I was sitting at the foot of his bed and Mom was standing over him. She bent way down and spoke right into his face. "It's okay now, Dad..." (she always called him Dad) "'s okay to go now." Within just a few seconds, my precious father sat straight up, his ice blue eyes opened as wide as possible and he had this amazed expression on his face that no words can really describe. With that, he laid back on the bed and took his last breath. What on earth did he see? What wonders did he behold as he took that final breath? I will never know for sure until we meet again—all I know is it must have been extemely glorious—surely not of this earth. I consider being able to witness that moment a gift. A thing of beauty.

Fast forward to the last day of April, 2010. Mom's ninety-seven plus year old body just couldn't take any more. She had been a cancer survivor—both breast and colon cancer—for 17 plus years but during the last few years of her life, she had been failing, having endured several times in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities, getting weaker with each stay. I had just seen her on Easter Sunday, a few weeks before and we had such a great visit. She was in the hospital, and I think I knew that it would be the last time we would visit...on this earth.  Around four o'clock AM that day I was awakened by my phone. There was no time for travel of any kind as her time was at hand. There was a conference call going on. Six of her eight children were at her bedside, cell phones on speaker. My sister called me and one of the others called our oldest brother in South Carolina. They took turns putting the phones to her ears so she could hear all of her children's voices and we all could hear each other's as well. I could hear Mom's labored breaths so clearly as they held the phone to her so I could speak to her. She held on a few more moments. We all told her we loved her and said our goodbyes pretty much in unison. Then she was gone. That was a beautiful thing...yes, sad, but beautiful at the same time. A few days later, her eight children sang "Amazing Grace" to her one last time as she was lowered into the ground...just as she had requested. That, my friends, was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.

If we choose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—that He is our only Savior—we know that only in death will we be able to actually see and experience the beauty that He has in store for us after we leave this life.

But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”           1 Corinthians 2:9


  1. Oh my goodness....Debby Ray. This was beautiful. I could feel the love and see the beauty in both of your stories. I love this line
    "If we choose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ—that He is our only Savior—we know that only in death will we be able to actually see and experience the beauty that He has in store for us after we leave this life." Amen! Thank you for sharing this. Love and hugs.

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  3. Your story took me back to the 6th grade. I lost my BFF my maternal grandmother that year and although cancer had ravaged her body I saw a similar experience with her opening her beautiful blue eyes and I believe, seeing me for the last time. You see my grandmother was blind and had lost her sight when I was 8! I think the Lord allowed her to see my face one last time. Thank you for bringing up that memory for me. I am sorry you lost your dad but I have a feeling he was headed to a much better place.

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  5. That is so lovely. There is sadness in death, but it is so much happier to know our loved ones will be there when we join them in heaven one day and to know that there is no more pain for them.

    1. You are so right, Jennifer. The real sadness is when we don't know for sure. I am so glad the Lord gives us special moments like these. Thank you for visiting and for the sweet comment :)

      Have a blessed week.

  6. Oh Debby Ray, I have tears in my eyes right now... Reading your story brought back the time my dear Grandma Betty passed away. She went in for heart surgery and when she came out from surgery she seemed to be doing well. But then she took a turn for the worse and her body began shutting down. My dad knew he needed to see her so he and my mom drove from Colorado all the way to Canada {a 24-hour drive}, but they were too late.... she passed away about an hour before my dad got there. Her death was very unexpected and sometimes not being able to say goodbye in person one last time leaves a hole, an emptiness.....

    But reading your words, my friend, blessed my heart. My grandma was a believer and I know I will see her again in heaven - yes, there is beauty in death and you pointed it out wonderfully. Thank you, dear one! Hugs to you!

  7. Beautiful post. Death is so hard and yet knowing when our family members are Christians does make it easier because for us who are Christians we know we will see them again.


Thank you for stopping by today! Your sweet comments are such an encouragement to me.

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