Pam spent last night sleeping in a chair beside her father’s hospital bed. He is dying.
“It is like sitting with someone who is giving birth,” Pam said. “It’s hard work. It can be frightening—you need strength and courage to undergo this suffering, this ordeal, to bring a life to birth. And,” she said, “it’s the same with dying. It’s hard work leaving this world, too, and you don’t want to do it alone.”
So she sat in the chair last night, where she could hold his hand. I knew she hadn’t slept in days, so I asked if she couldn’t pull the little bed they provided for her next to her father’s bed—so she could get some sleep. No, she wanted to sit where she could hold him, stroke his arm and his head. If all other senses had gone dark, at least he could feel someone holding him and know somehow that he was not alone.
I thought, Only a woman who has given birth would see that obvious symmetry, of coming and going, birthing and dying. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,” says Job, “and naked shall I return thither” (1:21). The womb from which we come and the tomb into which we finally descend are one and the same, Job says.
Can we trust that?
God is the one who yanks us bawling from the womb of life, and God is that same midwife who draws us back through the gate of death. We burst into the world on God’s out-breath, and “return thither” on the divine in-breath.
As Pam mused, however, it’s hard coming and going. It helps to have someone hold your hand, pray, be a witness to the miracle.
Jean Whiddon says
Sincere sympathy to Pam and the family. Pam, you’re a good daughter. Jean
Sandy Oldfield says
ah, david, this is a beautifully inspired, conceived (pardon the pun) and crafted piece and it is so true. having sat now with mother, father, stepfather and brother, i know it all too well. it IS heart-breaking, hard work but is such a precious gift. there will be time for sleep. and time for you to hold pam and ease her pain. you, too, have a hard job ahead and just the heart for it! love to you all, sandy
Caroline Oakes says
Thank you for sharing this post, David. God bless Pam, loving daughter and now abiding mid-wife, praying her Dad into the next life, her presence a loving reminder we are never without Love.
Jen Kepner says
This is beautiful, David. I remember being at a retreat with Barbara Crafton where she said, “I think dying for a person is as scary as being born is for a baby.” While we thought about that she said, “If you don’t think we remember the trauma of being born, try to put a turtleneck on a two-year-old.”
Pam is a great daughter. Loved how Caroline above referred to her as “loving daughter and now abiding mid-wife.” Stroking his arm and head and denying herself sleep. Love her.
Thanks, David. Blessings to Pam and to you, her family and yours. And special blessings to the hospice workers and all who are assisting them.
Beautifully touching. Prayers and sympathies to the family during this time.
It is so hard, but a blessing to be able to be there.
My love to you Pam and to all of your family.
Margaret Anderson says
I’m grateful that you wrote this, it is so real and beautifully said. Hard to respond after seeing such well put responses. Blessings to all the family.They are in my thoughts and prayers. Mugsie
Ann Koberna says
The truth and wisdom of this analogy so clearly comes from loving experiences. I beleive that pain’s gift is compassion, which helps us to “witness” one another’s pain. I am sending prayers and love to each of you.
Simply beautiful. I hope this stays with me until God’s “divine in-breath” takes me home. <3
Ginny Lovas says
God Bless Pam and you at this time. This is so beautifully written – and, like others who wrote, a new way of looking at Birth and Death. Holding the hand is so important, and I always wished I had held my Dad’s hand the night he died.
Cinda Ball says
Pam and David – you and your families are in our thoughts and prayers – thank you for sharing.
Julie potter says
You must know hearts are with you, Pam. feel the flow and strength of that love and caring. It was such a tender thing to read about you there holding Dad s hand and the analogy of birthing and the final hour…..death in this life. Very special thoughts and prayers to Flynn s loved ones on Sunday afternoon for the Great Remembrances of his life. love, Julie and John ~
leslie smith says
amen to all above; lovely piece, locvely daughter with her dad. thanks, leslie