As I was sitting on the floor of the hospital I was acutely aware of the cold hard floor against the back of my legs. While I watched nurses running in between rooms and I realized that life and death are such close friends in this place. The sadness of the room I was avoiding was punctuated every so often with laughter of the other rooms. A bed wheeled down the hallway and picked up the girl in the room across from me, she was having a minor surgery and it was no big deal.
But for those of us who were waiting outside of 425, it was a big deal.
It’s a big deal because we were watching my best friend’s grandmother as her life was slipping away. Actually, we were waiting for it. Ironically enough, we were praying for it.
As I was sitting there, I flashed back to 6 years ago as I stood in the ICU with my brand-new husband of 12 hours while we watched life slip away from his childhood best friend. The beeping of the monitors that were breathing and beating for him, the hushed voices, the tear-stained faces of the friends and family he was leaving in that hospital room was almost too much for any of us to handle. I will never forget sitting in that waiting room later that day and watching the nurse bring out a plastic bag of the clothes and shoes he was wearing before he found himself in a coma in the bed down the hall. The finality of it punctuated by the ordinariness of clothes in a bag. His shoes, scuffed and stained, his clothes cut down the middle when the paramedics came and tried to resuscitate, the gold cross necklace he wore tangled up and visible from the outside of the bag.
The difference between these two stories is that one was surrounded by those who believed in a life after death and the other was surrounded by a mixture of those who did and didn’t believe in that.
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)
While I watched my best friend’s professional work as a doctor and her personal life of losing her grandmother collide, I was reminded of this verse. As she said all the things that you say to your grandma when you realize she’s dying, I couldn’t help but think of how incredibly painful it must be for those who believe that the end of life is the end of it all. For my friend’s grandmother, when her eyes opened again she would see Jesus and the place that He has prepared for her. It’s seems odd to rejoice in the fact that she’s gone but for those of us who know Christ, it makes sense. There’s peace in knowing that we will see her again soon when we take our place that has been prepared for us in heaven, too.
I need for my son to know that this world is not our home. That we were not meant to chase success by the world’s standards at the sake of our own souls and relationship with Jesus. I want for him to grow up knowing that we never really say goodbye to those in whom Jesus dwells. For as sad as it is to watch someone as life slips away, we have to remember that as final breaths are taken on this earth, first breaths are taken in heaven. It doesn’t make it hurt less when it happens but at least there’s hope to cling to until the pain dulls and the heaviness of heart lightens.
My heart hurts for my friend but my soul rejoices for her grandmother who is finally home.