Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.

1st verse to an ancient Welsh folksong

โ€œAnd, in the end
The love you take
is equal to the love you make.โ€

Paul McCartney

(the little Ga Tech bear that sits vigil at the foot of Dad’s bed)

There’s a lady in our town who makes teddy bears.
The premise is that you can bring her an old blanket, shirt or some other piece
of clothing, from either a growing child or even a departed loved one,
and she will make a bear using the blanket or fabric of said loved one…
she calls them “remembrance bears”…

Just before Christmas, when I was picking up a prescription at my pharmacy,
I saw this Ga Tech bear sitting on a small stool at the end of an aisle.
I asked the pharmacist if this particular bear was for sale or merely a display.
She informed that it was indeed for sale as her mom was now making collegiate bears.

“Well”, I excalimed,
“I know just the perfect person for this particular bear”…

And ever since this little black and gold bear has been sitting at the foot of dad’s bed,
or in the nearby chair…
keeping a steadfast silent vigil throughout these days and nights
of both waxing and waning….

and right now the days and nights are waning.

I was meet this morning by both nurses…hospice and the care service.
Dad had had a bad night, throwing up repeatedly, resulting in them having to administer
an anti nausea drug from the “emergency” hospice kit.

This emergency kit was provided when Dad was first placed on hospice care.
It’s a little brown box that was to stay in the refrigerator
as it had the emergency morphine for when pain got really bad…
as there may not be time to quickly order new meds.

It’s a little brown box I pushed way in the back of the fridge…
hiding it behind the eggs and milk…
as I didn’t want my stepmother to mistakenly throw it out,
and I didn’t want to see it,
I didn’t want to be reminded of it,
and I prayed we wouldn’t have to use it.

They started using it about three weeks ago.

The hospice nurse was also giving him a good going over….
from head to toe…checking the catheter, his vitals, etc…
When one is terminally ill, dignity is the first casualty.

Later my nurse friend came into the kitchen where I was waiting
and told me that she really didn’t think it would be much longer…
Maybe a week at best.

I reminded her that we said that two weeks ago…
yet I was very aware that we both knew the deal…
that no one can ever predict time in these sorts of matters…
however I also knew that she’s ridden in this little rodeo before…
her knowledge and intuitive skills certainly surpass mine in these sorts of situations…

And so after running to the grocery store and doing some errands for the
maintaining of their household…
I went back to sit with dad.

His speech was slurred, his eyes fluttered open and shut…
but he did have his cable news turned on and was attempting to go through
the motions of reading over the newspaper.
It is from Dad that I get my keen interest in all things news, political, football and history.

His legs were twitching back and forth,
As he told me that a former caregiver had died.

She had not died and is actually alive and quite well.
His mind is working hard to sort reality from that of dreams.

And as I sat with dad, watching news story after news story concerning the complete
idiocy of this nation of ours, I was suddenly and tragically aware that there were countless
other families doing exactly what I was doing…
and that is keeping vigil over a loved one.

The furtherest thing of importance that should be on our radars are these
ridiculous demonstrations, protests and marches.

When you cut away all the minutia of life…
all of the pettiness,
the bitterness,
the anger,
the tantrums,
the selfishness,
the lies,
the hate,
the lunacy…
you will see what is truly important…

And that is simply living,
as well as dying,
and most importantly the love that it to be found in each of those human functions.

Damn to pink hats, to rock stars, to actresses all performing for the mania…
those who now only live for the “will he or won’t he” that is gripping the minds of the hysterical,
It all matters not one iota when you find yourself slowly losing either your own life
or slowly losing the life of one you love…

It is the love found in that life that really only matters.
The love given, the love demonstrated, the love received…

May you open your heart not to the maelstrom of the mania that is currently
roaring past you…
but rather may you seek and find the love in life…
that one lasting piece of each of us that really truly only matters…

because in the end…it is only the love that will remain…

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height
nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-38

27 comments on “vigil

  1. Elihu says:

    My heart aches for you, Julie. I can hear your heartache in each line. May the Lord wrap his arms of comfort around you and your family during this vigil.

  2. Karen says:

    These days in your life and that of your father have to be the hardest ever imagined. My thoughts are with you both, my prayers are for you both.

  3. Wally Fry says:

    Amen Julie, thank for your willingness to share this with the rest of us, and that we might learn a few things from your struggle.

  4. phyllissnipes says:

    Dearest Julie, I can’t begin to tell you how my soul reaches out to you. I have thrice held the hands of those I love dearly as they slipped into Jesus’ presence. My comfort is in knowing, knowing, knowing, I will be connected with them again, through our precious Saviour. Lance and I are here for you, praying earnestly as you go through these days ahead. And we love you!

    Hold onto the knowledge that you are NOT alone!!

  5. says:

    My special friend, I wish I could hop on a plane and give you a big Kathy hug, but I’ll have to do it virtually. I know the pain in your heart. I’ve felt it too. I feel it now as I read your words, but as you quoted scripture in the end, I know that you are confident in the results to come. Your dad has a room waiting for him in heaven. I pray that he will be enjoying it very soon. In the meantime, may Jesus wrap His strong arms around you both and give you the strength to endure all of this. You are so right. There is no distraction in life more important than death.

  6. Lynda says:

    All that I have to add is that you know that I send blessings and hugs and that you and your dad and your family are in my prayers.

  7. Julie, We have been where you are, losing both parents slowly before they passed into the portals to glory. You are blessed to have each other. Praying for you and your dad for blessings from our heavenly Father who will be there for you at every turn in “this thing called life.”

    • Thank you Fran for your loving wishes and prayers—losing mother 30 years ago when both she and I were both so young was so very hard. Her’s was a painful death from cancer and it was when I became the parent for Dad…this time is hard in a different way—as dad is a gentle childlike soul so I fret for him not as a daughter losing a strong father but a guardian losing their precious charge…
      any loss is hard…young or old—as I am constantly learning to yield all I am and put so much trust in God’s hands…

      • Julie, even though I have just recently discovered your blog, it seems that we have much in common. You live in Carrolton, Ga.? We live Buford, northeast of Atlanta. I will look forward to your blog posts as I continue to pray for you and your dad. Thank you for sharing what the Lord is doing in your life. Perhaps, if you haven’t already, you will record your life experiences in a book(s). Such has been a blessing for me. One that I hope to publish soon is the story of my three week vigil with my dad, One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words. Life has not been the same since that experience in 1994. The loss of every member of my family has brought me closer to our heavenly Father. Blessings ~ Fran

      • Yep, Carrollton it is. I grew up in Atlanta, in the same house dad is still in…I moved to Carrollton after graduating from Georgia, taking a teaching job. I met my husband, and then Carrollton became home now for the past 34 years.
        Your book sounds amazing. I have always wanted to write a book but never really knew what exactly—so once I retired, I ventured into the blog world…I’ve been blogging now for almost 4 years–posting daily—at first it was all a bit random–cooking, traveling, teaching, spirituality, photography, art…then when I ventured to Ireland a year ago—God righted my direction and I felt a huge sense of urgency to ramp up the importance of knowing who our Savior is as well as bringing awareness to the plight of Christians worldwide…as I feel time is of the essence.
        So I’ve narrowed my focus and now with Dad’s health failing, that too is now contributing to much of what I write–as I feel that whatever I’m going through and experiencing will be experienced by someone else at some other time who might truly need to know that they are not alone….
        so the ramblings continue on ๐Ÿ™‚
        I look forward to reading your posts as well and being blessed by God’s grace which now pours from your heart Fran—again, thank you so much!

  8. Oh Julie. Only catching up on events now. Tomorrow after Mass, Little Paddler and I shall ask Holy Mary and the baby Jesus to look after him. She asks Holy Mary for a star from her crown for very special intentions and then she stuffs it down the neck of her jumper and says she’s putting it in her heart. We’ll ask for one for your family tomorrow.

  9. I burst into tears as I got to the end. You have just summed it all up so beautifully. My thoughts and prayers are with you as I know how very, very
    difficult these days are and will continue to be. Love and hugs, Natale ๐Ÿ™‚ โค

  10. SLIMJIM says:

    This is a very moving post.
    I’m praying for your father and also his comfort. I’m also praying for you and your family and also the caretaker.
    Love is what matters.

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