This was Mitchell’s first morning after being released from the hospital to die at home. Though in the comfort of my own home and bed, I didn’t sleep well that night – I wept and I prayed for my son to be delivered from the jaws of death. If ever there were a time for hope, this was it.
As I walked into my son’s bedroom I couldn’t help but notice how the morning sun shone softly through his window and warmed the color of everything … as if to promise that not all of life is dark and there is cause for hope.
I asked Mitch how he slept and he said in a soft voice “I slept great, Dad.” He was home – and that is where he loved to be. Until this moment I had never considered it possible to be in both heaven and hell at the same time. Yet there I was, in the middle of both… a beautiful agony.
Mitch was tired and weak so I helped him sit up while Marlie was still in his arms. She looked at him for a moment and then gave him a soft kiss. Mitch smiled and hugged his puppy close to his face. He loved having his own baby dog. Marlie had a mission of mercy to perform and for whatever reason she seemed to forget she was a puppy whenever she was near Mitch. This little dog that was no more than 3 months old gave my son much comfort.
I’ll never forget, despite my profound sorrow, the feelings of hope and peace I felt this day – and many days thereafter. Reflecting back on our time with my son on hospice I have come to understand those moments of peace weren’t a promise of deliverance from hardship, but a faint whisper … a spiritual glimpse that all was as it was meant to be and that there were greater forces at work than I knew. So I learned to put faith in that.
I learned early in my life it is not reasonable to hope for a life free of hardship and sorrow. I cannot hope to be the only human exception, exempt from the sorrows of this life. But I can hope the tempest of sorrow and grief in my heart will one day calm. I can hope to find meaning, to search for understanding and experience growth. Those things are eternal and the things for which we can truly hope.
I also hope to see my son again one day. When I do, I will run at reckless speeds to hug him. I will wet his face and his neck with my tears and I will tell him how much I love him. And perhaps, when I turn around I might see the Father of my soul do the same to me.
For if we, being human, can love our children so intensely, how much more might He love us? I can scarcely imagine. I can scarcely take it in.