Monday, February 4, 2008

To Be Absent from the Body

My grandmother breathed her last at 5:00 am this morning. Until yesterday she had stayed very sharp, and relatively free from pain. Yesterday morning the pain got very strong, and as my cousin Amber worked to stay ahead of it with substantial doses of morphine, my grandmother slipped into unconsciousness. By late last night, she was breathing very slowly, down to five or six breaths a minute. My grandfather was in the room with her, and heard her stop breathing. He called Amber, then laid down beside her on the bed, with Grandma's hand in one of his, and Amber's in the other. He had been cold all night, he said, but he immediately felt warm, with the presence of God filling the room. When I showed up several hours later, he had a smile on his face, and was clearly at peace. "She's gone, and our prayers are answered. She's in the presence of Jesus, and her pain is over."