What a difficult time it is in this life, when we must cry, must grieve, and must let go of something precious.
On July 25th, we said goodbye to Brian’s daddy, Harry. He had been struggling with his health for several years, had excruciating pain with his back, and recently, he had had a very lengthy hospital stay, supported on oxygen for pulmonary fibrosis and severe lung dysfunction. We kept hoping that he would pull through, would go home, perhaps with an oxygen tank, but that he would go home. Instead, in the late afternoon of Thursday, July 25th, he left this world on his own terms and in his own time. While the decision to aid him comfortably in this journey was put on our shoulders as his family, we didn’t have to follow through with that painful decision. He went, all on his own, and in a way, that was very comforting. No what-ifs, no doubts. A final, amazing gesture of love for his family. We were all there, at his side, when he peacefully slipped away. I must have cried a river of tears there at his bedside, as did everyone else.
The days leading up to his death were very difficult and emotional. I so wanted to believe that he would pull through, that he would go home and even with some special accommodations, with oxygen and support, that he would be ok. We would have him a while longer. We went to see him the Monday before he died, and it tugged at my heart to document these moments between him and Brian. At that point, Mr. Harry was still able to communicate some, and mouthed “I love you” to Brian.
Time is the caretaker of life. Each beat of our hearts is a moment of time, a moment of our lives that slips away. These pictures document precious life, precious time. I felt compelled to photograph it. I am glad I did.
That following Thursday, after he passed away, we followed Brian’s mama home to make sure she got there ok, since she lives about an hour from the hospital. It was nearing dusk, and had been raining. From the passenger seat of the car, I looked up to the sky to see a big, brilliant, beautiful rainbow. I have never seen one like it. It followed us from the time we left the hospital, until we turned towards Brian’s mama’s house. Since we were following her and didn’t want to stop, I took a chance on rolling down the window and snapping a picture from the moving car. I didn’t expect to be able to capture a clear image. Several days later, when I took the images off my camera, I found this.
A clear, beautiful snapshot of that glorious rainbow. And about halfway down, there appears to be a cloud-shaped figure, walking. Maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it’s him. Following us home, letting us know he’s ok and that we will be, too. That’s what my heart sees. I believe that there is an interval where we are separated from our loved ones, only briefly for a time and space. We will see him again, and he will be standing upright, with no pain, and breathing easily. He will be whole again.
There are no things, no people that we get to keep forever here on Earth. But, thankfully, God promises us that we will be reunited with them in Heaven. Until then, our hearts keep beating out our time here–moment by moment–and we find hope and comfort in the memories, the promise, and the love. Those are ours to keep forever. And they are everything.