My phone rang a little after one o’clock this morning. Just a few minutes before,Marvin died.
Out of bed, put on clothes, into the car, and I was off to the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, holding back tears, I led the family in prayer as we commended him to the mercy of God, the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and the glorious company of the saints in light.
It’s an unusual thing to keep vigil with someone as they die. The mix of emotion is unlike any other. We speak deeply-felt and long-held truths, almost as easily assaying hello. Joy and laughter come in turn with silence and tears. A suggestion that end may be soon sets us on edge, wondering if each breath might be the last.And then those breaths stretch into minutes, hours, and days. We float along between life and death, navigating a sea of grief and joy; laughter and tears;silence, conversation, and prayer.
Then, at some unexpected moment, the end comes. Breathing stops. Peace descends. We gather around, one last time, to lay on hands, commend to God, and look to what is next.
Almighty God, our Father in heaven, before whom live all who die in the Lord: Receive our brother Marvin into the courts of your heavenly dwelling place. Let his heart and soul now ring out in joy to you, O Lord, the living God, and the God of those who live.This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The vigil has ended. A new path lies open before us.
Yours in Christ,