“I believe O God,
help thou my unbelief….”
I still have a great deal that I want to share about the last two weeks that Dad and I spent
together….however the time is just not yet ripe…
Too much is now pressing and weighing in as I still find myself having to journey
back and forth…albeit not every single day…
taking care of business that is now snowballing faster then I care for….
Yet despite these larger than life looming worries found in the act of both dying and death,
I continue wading through the musings and thoughts of Dorothy Day…
And how timely it is that I should stumble upon her own reflections of her time spent
by the bedside of her dying mom…
“It almost seems that one is absorbed in a struggle, a fearful, grim, physical struggle,
to breathe, to swallow, to live.
And so, I kept thinking to myself, how necessary it is
for one of their loved ones to be beside them, to pray for them,
to offer up prayers for them unceasingly,
as well as to do all this little offices once can…
In reading Dorothy’s own words of the interaction she had with the last
moments of her mother’s life,
I was taken by the similar thoughts that I held as I kept my vigil with Dad…
I found myself actually timing his breaths….
and when I didn’t think he’d taken a breath as I thought he should,
I stared with an almost laser intent vision at his chest checking to see I could
still see the heart beating through his now thin body and translucent skin.
I watched him laboring to swallow as his eyes, now cloudy and glazed, would roll back
then vainly attempt to focus on the sound of a nearby voice…
Muscles involuntarily twitching as the toxins overtook what oxygen remained in the blood.
All the while the unrelenting conversations with God continued unabated.
I was keenly aware, as I sat in the stillness of his room, of the mysterious,
yet rocketing forces of both life and death…hurdling at a ferocious and devastating speed…
colliding simultaneously into one another….with dad smack in the middle…
It was, it is, a struggle between both life and death.
A most fierce tug-o-war…
All the while a scared and mystical transition of power was actually taking place.
Our natural earthly instinct is to fight….
just as in birth we are implored to breathe..
In death we fight for the very last breath…
for we do not, will not, go peacefully from this realm of which we have grown so accustomed….
And yet, when the final moment does come for us to relinquish…our very beings…
as it always does…for there is no choice when that time does indeed come….
there is a tremendous release…
as if a heavy sigh is expelled after completing some sort of most strenuous physical task..
something so demanding and so arduous…
that when it is finally finished, a resulting sense of both exhaustion and
That feeling of being totally spent yet simultaneously feeling totally content…
And so it is the Psalmist who so sweetly, yet so aptly, expresses the
true underlying yearning found in the center of that life ending and life beginning
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?