In several beats of the heart, a daughter witnesses enduring love.
Posted in , Jan 26, 2016
Today’s guest blogger is frequent Mysterious Ways contributor and animal law professor Dana Apple. It’s been 24 years since her mother passed away from heart failure. But Dana will never forget the mysterious last moments they shared together. And the miraculous way her mother managed to say goodbye.
Here’s Dana’s story…
My mom had her first heart attack in 1968, when I was 12. Her left ventricle was damaged, and fluid tended to collect in her lungs. So every now and then, she’d spend a couple days in the hospital. I grew up watching heart monitors.
Years later, when I was 36, Mom ended up in the hospital again. Only, she wasn’t having her normal congestive heart failure. Instead, she was having serious arrhythmia. I sat in her hospital room, once more glued to the heart monitor. This time, though, there was no hope. She was on a respirator and her heartbeat was a mess. The doctors tried everything. Nothing worked.
Finally, the time came to say goodbye to Mom. I stayed with her for two hours, singing “Amazing Grace” over and over and over while her heart slowed, and slowed, and slowed some more. I didn’t remember all the words, but the stanza about “dangers, toils and snares,” and “grace will lead us home,” which I did remember, seemed particularly fitting.
What is remarkable about those two hours is that there was an amazing grace, an amazing presence, with us. It was palpable, and rich, and filled the room completely with love and peace and comfort. I felt as though I could see it. A glow that was warmer than the lights in the room, which were turned down low.
For two hours, as I sang, Mom and I stood at heaven’s door. The door was open, and the light and love that flowed through it comforted and enriched me in a way I hadn’t thought possible in this world.
At the very end, Mom's heartbeat was erratic and slow. Gradually, it stopped. There was nothing but the classic "flat line" on the monitor. She was gone. I kissed her shoulder and told her that I loved her, that I would miss her every moment and think of her every day, and that I would see her soon.
Then something happened that I would never forget. Mom’s heart started beating again–six or seven beautiful rhythms! Then it stopped. I gasped in disbelief. Moved by the perfect, strong rhythm I never thought I’d see from her again.
Mom’s way of saying goodbye one last time.