Death is a mystery, only to the living.

I've heard this said many times over the years, but there are two sides to that simple
statement.  As I continue my journey through this place called "Grief", I slowly begin to
understand those two sides.

First, that death truly is a mystery to me, even being soundly rooted in my faith in
God. For it involves things unseen and unknown to my mortal mind that I can't even
begin to comprehend.

Secondly, one day all of the mystery will be made known, as I pass from this lifetime
into the eternal one. But not one day sooner.

Standing in awe of that fact, I recall the many days and nights I watched my mother
as she went through the dying process with cancer. It was a long and difficult journey
for her. It's odd, the things I can now recall.

As her health faded and dying began to take it's place, I spent many hours at her
bedside, just watching and listening. It was as if she had one foot planted in this
world, and one foot in the "other".  She wouldn't discuss the things she could see,
almost as if it were a special secret. But her facial expressions told the tale of a great
mystery.

One morning, she opened her eyes and seemed startled, then surprised, as if
someone she had known long ago had suddenly paid her a surprise visit. As I
watched quietly, she went from initial shock to a broad, beaming smile as she
acknowledged her "visitor". She quickly nodded her head as if in answer to a
question and smiled again. I saw pure peace radiating from her face, and will never
forget the sparkles in her beautiful blue eyes.  What joy radiated from her face!

Why I didn't ask her at the time who or what she was seeing, I don't know. At the time,
it didn't feel right to intrude on what felt like such an awesome occasion.

She had many "visitors" over the next few days as I quietly observed. Once, after
watching her stare at the corner of the room for such a long time, I asked her what
she was staring at. The television was placed just below the ceiling in the corner and
it appeared as if she was staring at it, except it was turned off.

She said, "I'm staring at the top of the TV."  Then she smiled, that beautiful smile,
again.

I finally asked, "Why are you staring at the TOP?"

She said simply, "Because I can't see the bottom."  She grinned in the direction of the
TV as if some unseen "friend" were standing between her and it.  I've wondered about
this so often.  It would explain to me why she could only see the top. Could it be that
an unseen visitor was standing in the way?  It was my mystery, and her secret.

She often reached out to her "visitor". Was she trying to beckon him forward, or
needing his touch to prove he was real?  Whether you and I believe she was truly
visited by someone from "beyond", or that she was merely hallucinating, isn't
important.  SHE believed he was there. I saw it on her face.

Many years ago when my grandfather died, I watched him go through a similar
experience, but with one additional detail. His visitor had a name. He called her
"Margaret". Although he carried on many conversations with Margaret, they were
hushed and muttered so softly that my mortal ears couldn't understand most of his
words.  He believed she heard him, though, as he carried on what appeared to be a
two-sided conversation with her. Was it supposed to be a secret from earthly ears?  
Is that why he spoke so softly?

Only occasionally could I hear enough of his conversation to be able to determine
that "Margaret" was his sister. She had died many years earlier.

As we pass from this life, shedding our mortal remains, are we afraid? Does God
allow those who have gone on before us the privilege of returning long enough to
help comfort us through this passage? Do angels come to us to minister to us during
this process? Or do we simply hallucinate as our dreams become waking reality?  It
will always be a mystery to us until the day we can see it through the eyes of death.

I watched my mother slowly begin to spend more time on the other side and less time
here with me. When I would pry about what she was thinking or what she was seeing,
she would simply close her eyes.  It wasn't something she felt she could share with
me. Maybe it was too personal, or maybe she wasn't allowed to say, or maybe she
just knew I wouldn't  be able to comprehend.  Eventually she slipped into peaceful
sleep and no longer responded to anything from this world.

I don't know why some people die so quickly, and others take such a long time. Just
as I don't know why some people die so peacefully, and others in such wretched
circumstances.  Another great mystery.  Mother clung to life for four more weeks
before death finally took her from us. But during this time, her soul was at peace and
even though the cancer ravaged her mortal body unto death, she slept peacefully
beneath the cover of God's merciful grace.

"Letter From Heaven" was written describing her passage from this life into the next,
and I wrote it as if it were from her viewpoint, not mine. Holding her hand as she took
her last breath, I knew she was finally home.  Her journey was now complete.  Mine
had only just begun.
The Mystery of Death
© Ferna Lary Mills
Rainbow Faith, words of Inspiration, Faith & Hope for the bereaved.
A Christian Grief Ministry
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