"I have to ask you a very difficult question. If Daddy doesn't survive, do you want to be with him when he dies?" That was the text to Danielle and Terrence, shortly before Terry passed away 7:46 AM, Tuesday, October 29, 2013. Eight years and five iPhones later, I still have that text.
I woke to the sound of Terry's labored breathing. I demanded of God, "Come on, God, you can give him a good night's sleep." I didn't know at the time; what I thought was labored breathing was Terry's last breaths. He was dying. And I was there to see it.
What I witnessed as he transitioned was miraculous. There were others in our bedroom that I could not see—others who had Terry's full attention. I cannot confirm they were angles, but Terry had set his gaze on them. His eyes wide as he followed them quickly around the room, behind me, and finally to the ceiling. He slowly turned his gaze up and to the right corner. He lifted his right hand as if to take the hand of someone reaching out. I knew it was time. I knew he would leave me; I knew he would die. That is when I sent the text.
I ran to the kids' rooms as quickly as I could to wake them. The three of us hurried to my bedroom. I gently rubbed his arm while Danielle ran her fingers through his hair. He took his last breath.
Amid the sorrow, there was still wonder and peace. As we sobbed, Danielle exclaimed, "Wait!" as if there was something important we had forgotten. We gave her our full attention, "He's in the presence of the Lord!"
"So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 HCSB)
That was eight years ago. I had never said, "Terry is dead," during those eight years. I used phrases like "He passed away.", "He transitioned." Or "He went home." But never, "He is dead."
For those eight years, I struggled with "How do I move forward in my life without feeling as though I am leaving him behind?" When I thought of moving forward, I felt I was neglecting him.
"He is dead." Those words had a profound effect on my life. Saying them brought an awareness of space and time that was oddly uncomfortable. The fog lifted slowly, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.
I began to see more clearly, my life without him. He did not need me anymore. His life had ended; mine had not. He and I were going to be okay. We are both in the presence of the Lord.
After months of hearing God say, "Let him go," I finally accepted my release from my marriage. It was time to move forward.
"For example, a married woman is legally bound to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she is released from the law regarding the husband." (Romans 7:2 HCSB)