200 – July 19
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”—Christopher Crowfield
The clock read 12:40 A.M. My heart hammered as I gripped the telephone, listening to my sister, Jane.
“Mom’s been taken to the hospital in critical condition.”
“I’m on my way,” I replied. I jumped out of bed, pulled on pants and a tee shirt, grabbed my purse, and was out the door. Alone in the car, I thought about mom. Bright and cheerful, she had just been to her 50th high school reunion, played golf with her friends, and baked a pie for the Memorial Day dinner we were having tomorrow. What had happened?
I finally screeched into the hospital parking lot and rushed to the nurses’ station. “I’m here for Nell Campbell.”
A blond nurse, her face a symphony of sympathy, glided over and took my hand. I knew then that mom was gone.
The nurse took me to my father, and we held each other tightly with tears streaming down our faces. My sisters arrived next; we reached for them and they for us and wept together for the loss of our Nell. When we saw her earthly body for the last time, it was never so clear to me that there is a soul that inhabits this empty vessel and that it had gone. The butterfly had left the chrysalis on the bed and flown on.
At the funeral, the church was overflowing with mom’s dear friends and family. The minister likened death to a ship sailing out to sea. To those of us watching from the shore, the ship appears to get smaller and smaller as it sails away, until finally it disappears completely. But it doesn’t really disappear. The ship is still a ship, sails billowing in the wind, as it proceeds on its journey out of our view. And although those of us on this shore are waving goodbye, saying, “There she goes,” there are those waiting on that farther shore, waving hello, and saying, “Here she comes!” This is the final ship any of us send out. It just sails to a different port.
My last conversation with my mother came five days before she died. I had been at a meeting where we shared stories about who had influenced us growing up. I said that my mother influenced me; she always said, “Can’t never did!” and, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” As I talked, it struck me that I should call mom and thank her for that. I am sure that some angel guided me to make that goodbye call, to tell my mother that I thought she did a great job of raising us kids, and that I loved her very much. It was my last chance to thank her. I am so grateful I took it.
Take every opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the dolphins in your life. You don’t know how long they’ll be swimming at your side. Make that call.
“I praise and honor my friends and family, whose support I treasure and whose love I return.”
I got a message from a friend that her dear husband of 23 years died suddenly on a Sunday afternoon. I was shocked and saddened by the news, and thought of my own dear ones who are no longer with us here on Earth.
As I searched for a sympathy card, I remembered one I had sent to a friend many years ago that had the most beautiful message. It was the story of a rose that grew through a wall where, though it could no longer be seen, was still alive and growing.
I found that very same card! So here is the sentiment for those of you who grieve for lost loved ones:
The Rose Beyond the Wall – from the writings of A.L. Frink
Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in the Sun’s light,
Watered and fed by the morning dew,
Shedding its sweetness day and night.
As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall
Through which there shone a beam of light.
Onward it crept with added strength
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice’s length
And unfolded itself on the other side.
The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before,
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing its fragrance more and more.
Shall claim of death cause us to grieve
And make our courage faint and fall?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive–
The rose still grows beyond the wall,
Scattering fragrance far and wide
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will forevermore.