I drove to 315 E. Broadway and took the elevator to the sixth floor. The door to room 608 was open when I arrived. She was laying on her left side with her back to me looking out the window. Her breathing was very labored.
I pulled a loveseat over next to her bed and held her hand and told her that I was there. I knew that she was in the throes of death and it would not be long. I got up and walked over to the nightstand in the room and searched through the drawers. I found what I was looking for...a blue-backed Gideon Bible with the New Testament and Psalms. I walked back over to her and sat down.
I opened the Bible to the Psalms. I held on to her left hand with my right hand and began to read, beginning with Psalm 1. I looked intently into her eyes as I intermittently read, prayed and sobbed. I prayed that the peace that only God can provide would comfort her as she stepped off into eternity.
After a number of chapters, I noticed that her breathing had become much more relaxed. The doctor entered the room and examined her with a stethescope. She also looked at Joyce's hands. The doctor said that it would not be long now. The doctor asked if I wanted the Catholic chaplain to come in. My initial reaction was 'no' (as not to be disturbed), but I knew that Joyce was Catholic and wanted to respect what she would want. I nodded my head in affirmation and continued to read.
Joyce's breathing became more shallow and sporadic. She seemed to sometimes go thirty seconds or longer before taking her next breath. I continued to read, but then stopped when I realized she had breathed her last at 1:35pm. I was about midway through Psalm 18 and here are the last verses I recall reading:
"For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great."
Psalm 18:28-33 (KJV)
As I sat there I thought, "How fitting? God is our rock! He has given her a shield of salvation, His right hand holds her up and His gentleness has made her great!" I muttered to myself, "Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)
My realization for the reality of death became even more vivid today. My thoughts raced to my living loved ones. Were they ready for this moment? Are YOU ready for when that 'day' comes. We are not guaranteed our next breath, much less our 'tomorrow'. Every one of us will die. In fact, 150,000+ people die EVERY day. The Bible declares in Ezekiel 18 that "the soul that sins, it shall die." We have all sinned (broken God's Law-10 Commandments) and are, therefore, going to die. Do you think that you are 'Good Enough' to go to heaven and you'll be 'okay' when you die? Click here to find out...