A Prayer for the Dying (Aunt Mabel's Prayer)
by Laura Swindon-Ross 10/30/2010 / Short Stories
The last few days with my Aunt Mabel were difficult ones.
It is always such a privilege, and yet so indescribably fraught to be with someone who is dying. Aunt Mabel knew the Lord; she had known Him all the days of her long and incredible life.
“I’m going home now, Laura,” she said.
Her eyes were bright, but her body was as frail as a bird. In the corner of the room, her wheel-chair looked strange without her. The cushions she had patch-worked sat in their little heap, unused. But the sea still sang its song outside her window; the little birds still came to feed on the seed she’d asked me to scatter, by the windswept winter hedge.
One of the things Aunt Mabel wanted me to do with her, on this journey back to God, was to help her write a ‘construction’ of her thoughts, as she called them.
“I’ll give the ideas, girl,” she said, grinning weakly, “You just put ’em into English!”
I praised the Lord for the powerful drugs that the doctors had given my Aunt Mabel, to ease the constant assailment of pain. It made it a little easier, just to know she wasn’t hurting like she had been. The kind and thoughtful nurse, who had been looking after her, gave us some time alone together; she said she would be back later that afternoon. We sure appreciated that time; my Aunt Mabel and I. We sat lovingly in the silence and spoke of gentle things, things that hardly seemed to matter in the scheme of things… It was just the churning prattle of the human voice, really – no more than that, a kind of familiar, lilting music in the room, but it meant a lot to Aunt Mabel, I could tell.
Well, we worked on Aunt Mabel’s ‘construction’ for a day or two, as her energy came and went and she seemed happy enough, given the circumstances. But after that, things went down-hill with her. I held her hand, and prayed and stroked the beautiful white hair that had always been her crowning glory, and so it was, still (apart from the wondrous eyes, and that amazing smile!). I tried to be of what comfort I could; my heart was so heavy inside of me, that I could hardly bear it. Then:
“Read me my little story, Laura,” she managed in a whisper, clutching at my hand, “Hm?”
And so I took up Aunt Mabel’s story, for what was to be the final time, and with the greatest difficulty, I read what she had said, and what I (unworthy soul!) had tried to weave within the beauty of those luminous, gold thoughts. I’d like to share a little of this with you now, if I may, dear friends. Aunt Mabel’s ‘construction’ went something like this:
‘… We who journey into the arms of the Lord have no choice but to leave you to your world of beauty and tears, and so it is how it should be – yet know this…
Our journey is not so unexpected, not so new… We, who have loved the Lord have been preparing all our lives for this moment when our heart will find it’s true home; our love will find it’s true wings and fly out from the fear that is only human, into the realms of light, where breath is a fight no more, and life flees the time of shadow and Begins…
Perhaps the angels have dreamed of me some night in recent passing, as I have dreamed of them? If this is so, then I am a most happy pilgrim! Perhaps I shall fall asleep and when I wake again, they shall know me, and I shall be eternally, with Him - -
Come, Lord Jesus – for I believe I hear you calling my name – never so clearly, as now…
Your faithful servant needs you, Lord – do not forget.
I ask only for your forgiveness, Lord –
I love you, Lord.
By the time I had finished reading, Aunt Mabel was gone.
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"For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end."
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
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2010 Laura Swindon-Ross
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