1 John 3:14
During my life I have been faced with many serious problems, but the most difficult thing I have ever faced was when I had to take my wife to a nursing home, and my daughter and I said goodbye to mother and wife. As we closed the glass doors behind us, she pulled on them, trying to open them and we heard her calling, “Open the door, I want to go with you!” But there was no handle on the inside.
My daughter and I tried to comfort each other. It couldn’t have gone on any longer. We could still see her coming home that time in the police car. Somewhere along the way she had gotten lost and couldn’t make herself understood to the people around.
The most difficult period was in the beginning. At first you don’t realize what is happening; you are surprised by changes in behavior. Then you are amazed by attitudes and reactions which until then you had never seen. In the course of the illness we had tried everything. We tried to bring help in, but she wouldn’t accept it. Sometimes she became aggressive, and then of course, no one would come back. Wietske was no longer Wietske; she had become another person.
When my daughter and I arrived back home we both sat and cried. We agreed that our loved one did not deserve such a goodbye. And we remembered the many times goodbyes were said in a dignified and warm manner. But at this goodbye there were no speeches, no flowers, no encouraging words. Was this how a faithful career as an officer in The Salvation Army was to end?
Of course I missed her. I visited her often. So many things were fading away. Sometimes we would sing the songs of years gone by. There was only one song she still remembered. It was our favorite song, and we sang it two or three times. The Dutch song seemed to be engraved on her heart. “Lord I Am Thankful That By Your Grace I Am Your Child.” It broke our hearts to hear her trying to sing it, and yet, somehow, it comforted and encouraged us.
After all, one of the most essential truths of Christianity is that it is our faith that keeps us going. For a Christian doesn’t live to die, but dies to live. Life with a capital L—a life in which there will be no more goodbyes.
Reinder Schurink, The War Cry