The last words he ever said to me were hard to hear and unfortunately true… “I wish I could say I was going to hang around for a while longer, but I think this is it… I’ve fought against this thing for a long time, but now it’s over. I’m tired of fighting…”
I’d returned to their home with several meals I’d prepared in hopes of easing his caregiver’s load in a small way...
By early evening, speaking more than a few sentences required a significant effort on Smithy’s part, wiping out what little energy he had remaining.
His health had spiraled downward during the 3 weeks John and I had been gone. His already slight frame was even thinner; between the cancer and the medication, he was wasting away.
Earlier that morning when John and I dropped in to check on Smithy, he seemed to perk up. We talked at length, staying far longer than we should have, given his condition. “I’ve made some mistakes in my life; if I could do parts of it again, I’d do it differently. Especially with you kids. All of that fuss, none of it matters in the end. It could have been better along the way, but I think it turned out alright.”
We knew he was saying good-bye, making sure everything was settled between us before he departed this life…
As I left him for the second time that day, I leaned down to kiss the side of his forehead and said, “Getting to meet you has been one of the great joys in my life. It’s okay to go if you’re ready. We’ll keep checking on Annie, helping her as much as we can.”
I meant every word I said. I hope he’d known me long enough to believe it.
Smithy passed away eight days later.
When we arrive at the end of our days or face an unexpected loss, it suddenly becomes clear that the people in our lives are what matter the most. Why does it take us until then to realize it?
“Lord, let our eyes be opened.”-Matthew 20:33 (RSV)
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