Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hallelujah, By and By

Written Sunday, December 17, 2006 

Will Mecom died today, around 2:30 PM.

He had been sent home from St. John's hospital last week with a hospice nurse, and three of his friends he's known since Berkeley in the '60's flew in to stay with him and see out his last days. They were all due to fly back tomorrow to get back to their jobs and families and Will, being the good friend he was, decided to politely pass into eternity before they left so they wouldn't feel guilty.

I had been to see him this past Wednesday night at his place. He was nearly unresponsive by then from the pain and the morphine, but he had a houseful of people laughing and telling stories about him. The hearing is the last sense to go, so we all talked to him and I played some old gospel songs. Jane said she saw his lips moving as I sang, and that he squeezed her hand. As we were hugging him goodbye he mouthed softly to Jane, "Love you."

After church this morning I gathered up my guitar and thought, "Maybe Will would like to hear some Christmas songs..." so I went to the sheet music store and bought a book of Carols to play for him. Then I stopped off to buy flowers and cupcakes and cookies for the people who were dropping by to visit his apartment. I thought to myself "I'm taking too long. I need to hurry up and get over there..." As I drove to his place I looked at a row of trees, shimmering with golden leaves against a bright blue sky, and I thought, "This is such a beautiful day, Will. I wish you were well enough to see it." Just then a small group of birds flew up in a perfect "V" over the trees and, as has happened only a handful of times in my life, I felt what it was like to be in a state of Grace - when all of God's love, and all the beauty of his creation is suddenly brought to my attention.

When I got to Will's apartment his friend Mark was outside, on the phone. He said, "You just missed him." I said "What? Did he go back to the hospital?" and Mark said "No, honey - he's gone. He died about ten minutes ago." I put down my packages and my guitar and started to cry. Two hospice workers rushed past me into the apartment and I followed them in. I saw Will there in his bed, and there was Jane's husband Jack standing beside him. I grabbed Jack and hugged him and about five of us, Will's friends and new acquaintances, stood there for a moment and cried. I looked up and said, "See Will? We told you so." 

One of the songs I sang for Will says it best. It's an old Baptist hymn that perfectly describes what I believe about death, and how we tried to tell Will it was going to be. I know he realizes it now, and I am thankful to God that his fight is over.

I'LL FLY AWAY

Some glad morning, when this life is over
I'll fly away.
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory
I'll fly away, in the morning.
When I die, hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away.
To a home where joy shall never end.
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory
I'll fly away, in the morning.
When I die, hallelujah by and by

I'll fly away.

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