Oct 1, 2014

Another Farewell

by H. Linn Murphy

I'm going in a few minutes to dress a lady for her final hours. I can't express the emotions running through my head and heart. I didn't know her well, but I know her daughter-in-law. I know how she's already missed. I can't keep the tears from falling, despite knowing that there is nothing truly sad about continuing the journey beyond the veil.

She puts me in mind of another sister who waits to follow her into the next phase of life. This one I do know. I go to her immaculate house and sit near her, reveling in the calm quiet. She grins at me past the cannula in her nose. It's a new development since last night's bout with breathlessness. She's still fighting it. She probably thinks of it as one of the last clinging strands holding her to this earth.

Dianne has been ready to go for twelve years, since her husband breathed his last. She has filled most of those years with love and service. Her last wish was to bring her children back to the church. One son, at least, is finding his way into the fold, bringing his family with him. She asks me to find the temple-ready card which bears her mother's name so a friend can take it and finish what Dianne cannot. I rifle through years worth of trappings and memories and finally find it tucked away in an obscure corner. I wish fleetingly that I could be the one taking that name to the temple.

She grins at me and I feel the peace of the next life wafting from her. I love her personality. She has such a twinkle in her eyes, even knowing that she's spending her last hours here. They've told her several times that she is terminal, and then that she has dodged the so-called bullet. This time there is no dodging. But she's okay with that. In fact, all of the backing and forthing has exhausted her. She'd rather be running full tilt into her future--into her husband's arms.

I'm so grateful I've gotten to be by her side. Although I'll miss her greatly, I know, except for her children, the things holding her here mean less and less to her. She's ready to leave the shackles behind and soar.

My grandmother was like that. By the time she died, her body was so pain-wracked that her last breath was a pleasure. I feel her sometimes up there, mostly dancing in a white 1920's dress. I know she wishes sometimes that she could leave a little money clenched in my child's hand as she once did. But maybe her aid is much more important. Maybe she's very busy making sure that I reach my proscribed ending. Maybe she's hovering around my missionary son. Whatever it is, I know it's important. And I know it's a labor of true love.

My mind turns inward. How ready am I to meet the Savior? Will He smile or will He shake His head and sigh? I can't help thinking that I'll never be quite ready. There's so much left to do that I can't leave in another's hands. And I'll always be wondering if I've done enough to warrant the smile instead of the sigh.

They're coming to get me soon. I need to dry my eyes so the wise, previous Relief Society President doesn't think her new one is a basket case.


  1. What a blessing for you to be able to share these last moments with your friend and to render that last act of service. Some of my greatest learning and witnesses from the Spirit have come through similar experiences. I always come away feeling like I gained more than I ever gave. Congratulations on your new adventure in service. Working in the trenches is a challenge, but oh so amazing. prayers and hugs~

  2. My grandmother was the same. She wanted to stay for us, but was ready. When she passed away, she came to each one of us and said goodbye. We weren't at the hospital. Many times over several years now I have felt her near. They really do just go over but not totally away.


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