Would I come, asked the family. Mother was near death. I came. I said the prayers. The clock struck six o’clock. “The Angelus,” said the daughter and we began to say the prayer. Partway through, her mother stopped breathing. The silence was strange. The room had been full of her breathing. We finished the Angelus and the daughter kissed her mother. “Good-bye, Mum,” she said, “thank you for letting me be here when you died.”
Beautiful words. She knew. Her mother might have chosen to wait until she was out of the room, even gone to bed in the room next door, but she hadn’t. She had let death and the Lord take her whilst her daughter was in the lovely Angelus prayer. “She’s talking to you,” her mother might have said to the Lord, “so I’ll slip away quietly” and she did.
In your family have you known those moments? Gathered together because you know death is near – but death can be near for days before finally coming. And we wonder why, so often, when we are not there (fallen asleep, gone for a cup of tea, making a phone call, etc.) they choose to slip away. So often it happens, and we guess our loved ones do not want the good-bye, it would be too hard; so they wait until all is quiet, love distracted elsewhere, and they go. Such quiet love.
Other times we know they are waiting for someone to arrive from a distance. But how do they know? Love seems to tell them and they wait and when the loved one arrives the peace of the awaited good-bye is shared. Two mysteries, waiting to be alone and waiting for a loved one – we are aware often of its happening.
Sometimes they do allow us to be there. They are content to feel love surrounding them and allow the sleep to become deeper until peace takes over and life is completed.
The daughter wanted to be there. The mother knew, so she allowed herself to go whilst her daughter was praying for her, and the daughter’s prayer was complete. It began in the sorrow of dying and ended in a peaceful death. I am glad I was there.
What will those wonderful sad last moments be for you and me – sad at leaving loved ones, joyful at seeing our waiting loved ones with God.
God bless us,
(13th October 2019)
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