Although my Dad survived his cardiac arrest, he never woke up. He looked as if he was sleeping soundly. No movements except breathing, no facial expressions or any sign that he could hear us. We were at the hospital everyday with him until he died. We talked with him and prayed for him and let him know how much we loved and cared for him. We told him he could go on to another place and let go of this earthly existence. I think he heard us.
On one of those days, I was disappointed that the staff hadn’t bathed him or shaved and combed his hair by the time we got there. I took it upon myself to do those things; I had for countless times as a bedside nurse. I grabbed the plastic razor, shaving cream, the kidney shaped basin, a wash cloth and a towel. I placed the towel under his chin and laid it ever so perfectly across his chest. I went into the bathroom to run the hot water. I wanted a warmed wash cloth resting on his face before I lathered the shaving cream for his shave. In that moment, as the water was running and slowly getting hot, I looked at myself in the mirror, over the sterile bathroom sink. I realized I might be giving my Dad his last shave. Tears started to well up in my eyes. I hung my head down and cried in silence because I didn’t want to upset my Mom as she sat at the side of his bed. And it was in that moment, that I felt an incredible feeling that I wasn’t alone.
In my head I heard the words “You are not alone”. Coming to my aid all around me were souls of all the people that I had cared for in my career that had died; all those whose hands I had held or whose body I washed or whose family I had comforted; all those souls were around me like a fortress and they lifted me up. I believed they came to help my Dad. He would not be alone. They would help him cross over and greet and welcome him home. I was goose bumped from head to toe and I felt an incredible sense of gratitude and my knees went wobbly. The angels were there in the bathroom with me.
I stepped out to my Dad’s bedside, tears on my cheeks but with a huge smile on my face, and I told my Mom what had happened. I told her the angels would be there. All the patients I had cared for that passed away, they would be there for me now by taking care of my Dad and greeting him and helping him to cross over. As I sit and type these words, I can only try to describe the comfort and love I felt that day. It is a feeling I will always remember. And one that reminds me of the presence of souls that are always near us and ready to help.
“I’ll lift you and you lift me, and we’ll both ascend together.”
– John Greenleaf Whittier