Monday, May 9, 2011

Meet Me at the Eastern Gate

 This is what these last few days have felt like. 
A glimpse of sunny at the end of the long stormy day.
The kind of sunny end that looks so neat friends
call each other all over the place to go outside to see it.

The kind of moment that makes you feel like
Wow, I am glad I stopped to see that.

Friday morning, on my way to the post office, I heard
that Tom was going to pass away. 
Maybe in the next day or even two.

So Cheryl's box is still sitting in the truck,
waiting to be mailed as I write,
and I went to Tom's. 

I held his hand. 

I told him I was proud of him
for all these years he has endured. 
Never whining. Never mad at God.

And I told him that he could leave
his broken body and be free.

He stared at me blankly.

I don't think he was there in his body
right then.

I know it doesn't make sense....but he was gone.
Only for a moment. 

You know how I know.
Because he was resting comfortably.

For almost five years, we have watched him
sit, stand, lay, rock, jostle and every other
action verb you can utter in pain, trying to
be comfortable.  And now,
with a cancer the size of a volleyball in his
stomach cavity, I can't imagine it is any
easier to find a way to position yourself
without pain.

That is what I noticed on Friday. 
He was laying peacefully. 
Like he was painless.

I even told my family later. 

Hospice must have seen it too because
they lowered his pain meds.
Which, have been amped back up today.

Painless.  It must feel so good to him.

There is something else that I said to him
Friday morning.

"Do you remember where we are going to meet?
In Heaven?"  I said.

"Yes," he softly answered. 
"The Eastern Gate."

Ahh.  He remembered. 

When my Grandma Ag died a few years ago,
there was an old Baptist song that my family
wanted played at the funeral.

"The Eastern Gate."
Some song from the 1940's.

Tom was kind enough to find it on the internet
for my mom to take with her to funeral.

If you know Tom,
a song from the 1940's is not his cup of tea.

I haven't been to Heaven.
I don't know if there is some sort of
information center there.
You know, one that will
have the outline of where everyone
is hanging out...sounding
trumpets or whatever it is
we will be doing in Heaven.

I like to have plans and details settled,
irregardless if it is Heaven or not.

So I asked Tom since he was going to
get there before me, could we meet at
the Eastern Gate and he could show me
around.  Introduce me to some of his
friends.  Give me a lay of the land.

For some reason,
feeling like I have some sort of control
that we will meet again in a place I wish to be real,
makes his passing a little easier.

That it isn't the end of our friendship.

LDS folks believe that families can be married
for eternity ("sealed")
which in turn means you will
already have some space staked out
together in Heaven. 

So while the Allisons have
the comfort to know that they
will see their boy, Tommy, again and be
together, friends don't have that
"sealing" promise. 

For people like me, who are raised to consider
friends to be like family, having an
 "Eastern Gate" plan is a good start.

He thinks it is a fine idea...
as long as we don't have to sing the song. :)

Wanna hear it?
Here is a contemporary version of it:
(and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word)

Tom is stable for now.  He lived through the weekend.
The hospice people say he is "remarkable"
...this man that "won't be pinned."