My grandmother is 95 years old. She inches closer to the end of her life. But, her journey must go at her pace and nothing else in the world matters to her. I cannot imagine being at that point in my journey. For me, there are schedules, financial constraints, and others’ expectations.
Not her. She breathes in. She breathes out. Over the last few days, her breaths have grown slower. Several days ago, no one expected her to make it through the night. Now, it feels like it is a matter of moments.
Years ago, I moved away but we have always remained close. Mine were the first great-grandchildren. My wife and I visited her when we had our first child. We forgot a pack-n-play. She said, “No problem. He can sleep in a drawer.” What?!? She cleared a drawer and created an impromptu bassinet.
My job brings me close to death. I have the privilege of being with families in the final moments with loved ones. I often find myself in thin space, where the line between heaven and earth seems to blur. Death is one of those thin spaces. And, like others, we cannot control it or capture it. The line blurs and we become aware that we stand on holy ground.
This time it is different. I am one of the loved ones. My grandmother is one of the most precious people in my life. She struggles for breath and I wish for her peaceful rest. The psalmist writes, “For God alone, my soul waits in silence” (62:5).
So, we wait. We wait for the inevitable. We wait for the comfort. We wait for the return to normalcy. We wait for other family members to arrive. We wait for showers, meals, and arrangements. We wait. While we wait, we wait together.
Even while she breathes, loved ones can preserve her memory by loving like she loved. Perhaps, this is the blessing of waiting. Maybe, this is a way to make peace with waiting. “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed” (Psalm 139:13, 16).