Thursday, May 6, 2010

He's Gone - Yet He Lives

Tuesday, we buried my darling daddy. He's gone... at least his body is gone from among us. But the best part of him is still here - alive and well. Its as if he's just in the next room... or out Pawn-Shopping. He was usually the last to arrive at dinner - just trying to squeeze in one more moment of "living" before sitting down for the evening. He was bigger than life - he didn't fit here anyways. And his memory is GI-normous. It fills my heart, my house, my life. I see him in my children, my brother and my sisters. I see him in my husband - he poured so much of himself into Jeff. I hear him in my own voice - where does he stop and I begin? He lives... in me - through me and I will live to honor him. I will make him proud. I will not let him down. 
I remember a time at the hospital, it was my turn to spend the night. It had been a rough day for him and he was so concerned that he would be too much for me. When I came in, he said, "I don't think you're gonna be able to handle me by yourself tonight." I looked him in the eye and said, "I'm a Wilt. I can handle anything." His face relaxed and with that half grin he said, "I guess you have a point there"... and that was the end of that. We just did what we had to do - no one worried about who was doing more or who was doing less. We were Wilts, and we handled it. And thats how it will always be. 
His last night on this earth was full of pain and misery. We stayed up with him and prayed for God to help him release himself from this mortal life. This was a man that did not know how to QUIT. There was no QUIT in him! We prayed and sang to him... he would get right to death's door but could not pass through. Toxins from his failed kidneys set into his brain and his eyes were blind the last twelve hours or so. We knew his hearing would be the last sense to go, so we continued expressing our love to him, praying and singing... singing and praying. At about 8:40 Thursday morning, he went into another terrible state of suffering and we broke into fervent intercessory prayer - all of us praying in the Holy Ghost... then I began to sing "Swing low, sweet chariot- coming for to carry me home..." My mom and sisters joined in and we sang on "Swing low, sweet chariot - coming for to carry me home." We began the verse - "I look over Jordan and what do I see?" When we started singing about that "band of holy angels- coming after me" his eyes blinked as if in wonder- then they set into a stare - his thrashing stopped - his face relaxed - and it was obvious that all pain and suffering ceased instantly! "Coming for to carry me home..." we sang, and he sighed one last breath. His heart, who doctors had deemed to be weak, beat on for ten minutes... although he never took another breath. At 8:55, his heart beat its last, and he was home. His chariot had arrived. 
I have not even began to grieve losing him - because I feel his presence still so strong. I am still rejoicing that his suffering is over forever. He will NEVER be sick again. He will NEVER feel another pain. He will NEVER feel the BURDEN for the LOST that drove him day and night. And for that I am grateful to God, who released him from ALL pain, suffering and burden. I know that grief is a process and that grief will come. I will not rush it - yet I will savor every phase of it - because that emotion will belong to him and to me. He has prepared me for life and for death. I understand the scripture passage so much clearer... "Oh, Death, where is thy sting? Oh Grave, where is thy victory?" He's Gone... Yet He LIVES! Forever young, healthy, strong and vibrant... his spirit lives in our memory... and in the portals of Glory... he waits for us. 
I Corinthians 15:51-57

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.