22 years ago.
It was a beautiful soft Florida morning in November. As was his early morning habit, Dad had walked around the house, inspecting the rose bushes to see if any could be cut and brought inside to brighten the air around you. You loved your roses! But there was only one, still just a tight bud, out of season.
You labored all morning to breathe, each breath coming slower, with more space in between it and the next. The thought occurred to me that we were witnessing the rhythm of birth, in reverse.
Dad put on a CD of instrumental music--hymns, played on flute and harp. Amazing Grace, your favorite, came on. You struggled to gather the next breath, and under my own breath, I spoke to you:
"It's OK. Let go. Be made whole. Be made beautiful. Come home." This became my mantra, over the soundtrack of gasping breath, silence, flute.
I realized suddenly, as the breaths continued to slow their pace, that I was not so much *saying* it to you, as *overhearing* it.
Another was calling you home, urging you to step over, to be healed finally of all your wounds.
Dad held your hand. The flute continued its song.
And the moment came, so simply and quietly, when the next breath simply - did not.
As my sister and I wept and held each other, Dad walked outside to hide his grief from us. He came back five minutes later, his face full of wonder.
The rose, a tight bud out of season just a few hours earlier, had bloomed.
And we knew that you were home.