Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Goodbye is Enough

My mother-in-law's husband, Henry, is dying of liver cancer. He is a great guy. He has made my mother-in-law very happy over the last 16-20 years (not sure how long they have been together). He's been a good influence on my children. He's been a good friend to me. He's a man of faith and integrity. He's a mere 60 years old.

And he's dying.

I'm not one to ask, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I've never had an issue with that. All I know is it sure is hard to see someone you love die.

Last Saturday, we went to visit Henry. My eldest son and I went into his room and talked for about 30 minutes. He was in terrible pain, lying on his side, keeping his eyes shut most of the time as he talked. If there is a book about how to say goodbye to people whom you love, I'd like to think I followed it to the letter. I held his hand, I listened to what he had to say, I told him I loved him, I thanked him for all he has done for my family, I acknowledged his pain, I assured him that he was a good husband and a good father, I reminded him of some funny things that have happened between us (Like the time he introduced me to someone as his sister-in-law, because he is younger than my mother-in-law, and I corrected him, "Oh no, Henry, I'm not your SISTER-in-law, I'm your DAUGHTER-in-law.) And I smiled deeply to hear him say, "I've always liked you girl!"

It was a sweet, sweet exchange and I gave him a big hug and kiss as we got up to leave the room. I watched him hug and kiss my son with a particular masculine tenderness that deeply stirred my soul. The entire experience was so very sacred and beautiful. I am thankful to have had it. I will never forget it.

Today my husband and I went to see Henry again. There were other family members and friends there. I talked to them and sat and relaxed and had a cup of coffee. My mother-in-law asked, would I like to go in and visit him again? I felt like I was supposed to answer, "Yes, of course." But I didn't. I said, "I had such a nice visit with him last week, I feel like I said goodbye then." She smiled and the tears welled up in her eyes. I think she understood. I know Henry would.

See you on the other side buddy!

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