The kids were home on Easter break today, and I started out with big plans to get the house in order for my Mom’s impending visit. But at some point in the day, I just couldn’t make myself move. I felt melancholy and, instead of breezing through the house with Swiffer in hand, I dropped onto the bed and let my body go limp for a while.
It was around this time, I later learned, that Ryan, the friend I mentioned the other day, sighed and prepared to take his last breath.
Ryan and son at a Minnesota Twins game
Ryan’s wife, Lori, briefly chronicled his final hours on the hospital “Caringbridge” website about an hour and a half later. I feel her words are worth repeating here, shining as they are as an example of how a Christian death can be:
We received our miracle of Eternal life today.
2 pm – Ryan skipped a few breaths and we began praying the rosary and received communion.
3 pm – We sang the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to him and he “snored” along. He was very relaxed today and shrugged his shoulders and sighed as if to say “I’m getting tired.” We took a break for some treats, visiting and laughter.
Then we sang him the Litany of Saints. It was perfect…as we finished his breaths got slower and finally around 4:15 he took his final breath. He was ushered into Heaven with all the saints around 4:30 pm. It was beautiful if you can call death beautiful. He was surrounded by family and friends. We know he’s already praying for us. He gets to enjoy the big Supper in heaven tonight!
This is what I was getting at in my post the other day when I said I can’t fathom how the end of an earthly life can be processed without the faith perspective. Lori’s bravery can only be explained in terms of a deep knowledge of God and the eternal home He’s preparing for all of us. With this knowledge in her head, Lori will have the courage to move through the rest of her life without Ryan being physically present. Certainly, it won’t always be easy. We’re not promised eternal ease in our lives here. But we are promised joy if we seek the Source of our existence and draw near to Him frequently.
Another update on Wednesday’s post: I didn’t get to say goodbye to Ryan as planned. When I arrived at the hospital, he was agitated and the nurses felt it best that his room remain as shuffle-free as possible. I trusted God’s will in this and headed, instead, to the Adoration chapel to say the Rosary for Ryan, meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries — The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion. It was both powerful and emotional and I’m hoping my prayers stored up a few more gallons of grace for Ryan and his family.
Before I left, though, I ran into his mother and sister (my sister’s former college roommate). I was so glad to be able to talk with them, give them both hugs and assure them of my forthcoming prayers.
“Please pray that it goes quickly,” his mother said as she squeezed my hand, a look of exasperation in her eyes.
Yes. A mother asked me to pray her son would die fast; a mother who could not bear to watch her son in agony any longer.
And no, the parallel has not escaped me.
Death is difficult to grasp, but life is so easy to embrace.
Dear Ryan, now that you are with us in a more vibrant way, please help us live the way we’re meant to be living in the time we have left. And live well in the eternal peace of Christ!