By Angie Dailey
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time. (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV)
I sat by his bed, holding his hand. I couldn’t contain my weeping any longer, and it escalated into soft sobs. My body shook as I tried to reconcile the emotions within me. I was conflicted between my own selfishness and my desire for his peace. My heart was breaking—I felt like I could hear it cracking, like a thin sheet of glass hit by a stone.
Daddy smiled at me as I cried. He squeezed my hand and drifted off to sleep, resting after being awake for only a few minutes. The cancer had taken over. The effects of the treatments had been devastating to his already frail system. He had a peaceful look about him, and all at once I realized I was standing on holy ground.
This was a place I had been once before, with my grandmother.
It’s that moment when life and death are reconciled within the soul of someone you love. It’s the second when you realize every breath is a gift, and every heartbeat means something. The very point in time when my daddy decided this was all for good. His illness, his suffering, his eventual death—there was purpose. We knew it to be truth.
The next few days were the holiest of all. Family came for limited visits. Friends called, loved, and fed us. Prayers increased with a ripple of love and support our entire family could feel.
My brother and I, our spouses and our children, all gathered around to speak hard truths and clear the air one final time. There was a lot of crying, but more importantly, there was a lot of laughter. I was trying hard to soak it all in. Seeing our father surrounded by those he loved most was surreal. It was a beautiful, holy tribute.
It made me want to take off my shoes when I entered the house. I knew Daddy was preparing to go to Jesus. It made me tremble with righteous fear, selfish hurt, and the need to kneel with my hands lifted. He had asked me months before to make sure he was ushered into heaven under the cover of prayer, so that is exactly what I did.
I prayed for almost six hours. I took breaks to eat and drink. I took my turn holding the hands of those surrounding him. I sat with my husband at the foot of my father’s bed, and we prayed silently together. The Holy Spirit was deafening in my ears, imploring me to keep praying and holding on to the One who would soon whisk my daddy to the perfect place of true rest.
The anxiety, heartache, and struggle chapter of this story ended on March 1, at 2:15 a.m., just two days after my forty-third birthday. Two hours and fifteen minutes into his official retirement, my daddy went to be with the Lord—full retirement with full eternal benefits.
He left me with one final gift. The peace and holiness of the moments preceding his passing were tremendous reminders of mortality. Even as a mere mortal, I can experience holiness in every situation when I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. I often keep myself so busy I miss the cues.
Slowing down to listen for holiness was a gift.
Through all the struggle, he taught me this childhood lesson once again. I will never forget it.
Angie Dailey lives in rural Ohio with her husband and family. She spends her best and most important time with the Creator of the Universe and with her family. She loves coffee, Jesus, and gardening, but not necessarily in that order. Angie blogs at angiedailey.com.
Photograph © Bekah Russom, used with permission