I had only ever seen his handy work from a distance. His signature was unmistakable. The Angel of Death was nothing if not a craftsman. This time was different. Dying before my eyes was a man I loved. I’m not ashamed to say it. Throughout a boy’s life he’ll have many friends, mentors, and bosses, but only one dad.
The scene was familiar, the hospital bed, the beeping monitors, the inescapable smell of antiseptic. The situation was different. This stay wasn’t a mere inconvenience or temporary station. We had come to say goodbye.
In the same way that death unifies the human experience it also acutely exposes our difference. While death’s footsteps echoed in the hall everyone said goodbye in their own way. Many said it with tears and sobs. Others said it with a faint smile remembering a special moment or one of his famous jokes. Others still hung back not saying anything though their eyes spoke for them.
Quiet fell on the room as death made its grand entrance. Dad’s face grew pale and his breaths became shallow. The angel of death carries with it an atmosphere of sorrow. The air in that little room became dark and heavy. Clouds began to form and realization rained down. Death paused for a second to bask in its native habitat.
Before the darkness could dominate the air a note rang out. More notes followed, forming into a beautiful melody. Praise and worship to the Holy One washed over me, the room, death himself and flowed out into the hallway. Heaviness lifted, the clouds fled, and death hastened its step no longer enjoying the moment.
As the singing continued death took dad’s hand. If you weren’t paying close attention you might not notice the shallow breathing stop. The singing died and a quiet somberness filled the room. Its job done, death turned to leave.
As we stared on in silence at dad’s hospital bed it was transformed from a barren wasteland to fertile ground and what began to bloom was absolutely glorious. Bright and radiant dad sat up slowly. His eyes focused on the brilliant angel of life who had quietly entered the back of the room. What it lacked in pageantry the angel of life made up for in power. Hoping down and without a look over his shoulder dad took the angel’s hand.