Never Forget

"If you want to let go of your attachment to your body, you might try looking beyond your senses by imagining that there is a love filter over your eyes and ears so you see and hear only Love." Jerry Jampolsky, Teach only Love

Today is January 9, 2013; it would have been my Dad's 90th birthday. Sadly, he died at the age of 88 from a stroke. He wasn't the first person I witnessed dying, but he taught me the most during the weeks my family and I kept a bedside vigil until he took his last breath. He spent many weeks in hospitals until he and my mom decided that he needed to come home. And so, all of the life support that he kept resisting was removed, and he came back to the house my parents built and lived in for over 50 years. Mom was comforted by the fact that they had decided together to come home and be quietly together. Mom wanted hospice to put his bed in the dining room to provide space for us to be with him. The room is in the front of the house with large windows that let in light; many wonderful memories of family gatherings with him sitting at the head of the table came to my mind, as I stood by his bed with my family. He only lasted for a few days at home, but I now realize what a lesson it was of looking beyond my senses to see and hear only Love.

The stroke had taken away his vision but not his voice. He had been a singer all his life, and performed on many stages all over the world. It is not surprising that his final performance in life was spoken with a constant refrain. "Never forget the Love that we share… Never forget how much I love you…Never Forget…" He was insistent that we listen and remember before he left his body; we reassured him over and over that we would remember.

Jerry tells us that "it is extremely important not to have any script for a dying person. Our absolute acceptance of where this person is now is the most important gift we can give."

It was hard to watch him struggle to breathe, and my mom gave him medicine to calm him which quieted his voice. My musical score would have been different for him; I would have preferred a quiet lullaby for a peaceful sleep, but his body did not do that. Instead, he was restless and his breathing became difficult. His handsome face became ashen, and his once strong arms were swollen and bandaged from IV needles and fluids given to him in the hospital. My mom had come full circle with him; she met him in a hospital during WWII where he was recovering from being wounded, and she was a nurse taking care of him. "I thought he was dreamy the first time I saw him" she told me. Now, after 66 years of being together, she was giving him comfort in his final moments before death. As we finished changing his clothes and bandages, I remember telling him softly that "it's ok to go Dad…we love you." We both turned away from him for a moment, and my mother was the first to realize that he was gone. The performance was over with a silent exit from the stage of life.

His grandchildren told their personal, loving stories about him at the funeral in front of a full audience. I chose to write a poem that was printed on the back of the church program. Even though my Dad's body is gone, I experience his love in so many ways each day. Before I wrote this poem, I asked him in a meditative moment to give me the words to write this poem from my heart. The following words are part of my poem…

"You will hear me in the laughter of children and the whispering wind;

in the applause of an audience that never seems to end.

Let your tears be joyful in celebration of me;

Clap your hands and sing songs for all eternity!"

"I will praise and give thanks forever and ever."

"Never Forget…"