I believe that death is a permeable boundary. Most people think that death is more like a wall: you are either on one side or on the other. Maybe like me you have been privileged to be with people as they approach this boundary. One minute the person may be talking to his ancestor who died years before and the next minute he may ask for water. People approach this boundary and move back and forth across it.
A few years ago a minister friend became my hospice patient. One day he asked his hospice nurse and me to come at the same time and meet with him and his family. We had no idea why we had been summoned. What sort of spiritual or emotional problem or confession were we about to hear?
Once we arrived, he didn’t seem to have a particular agenda. In the conversation, I mentioned my belief about the permeable boundary. Eventually he asked everyone to leave except me. As soon as we were alone, he said, “I just didn’t want my mom to think I was going crazy. She comes into the room and finds me talking to my father who died many years ago.” He knew about the permeable boundary, and he knew he was experiencing it. He wanted his mother to know that he was merely dying; he wasn’t losing his mind as well.
I had a son, Lew, who had severe, multiple disabilities. Ten days before his death of a sudden respiratory infection, I had a dream of Lew in the arms of an angel. They were in water. She was supporting him and was helping him breathe. As a Christian, I believe divine agents often help us with our life transitions. I believe they come especially to help us with the last transition. When we allow God to help us, God helps us in the “Nasty Now and Now” as well as with the transition to the “Sweet By and By.”
Shortly after my son died, I was writing in my journal about my dream. I suddenly laughed out loud because I realized that I knew the angel’s name! From my CD player came the old words of “Amazing Grace” to a new melody. I heard these words:
“T’is Grace hath brought us safe thus far
And Grace will lead us home.”
My dream of this beautiful, auburn-haired angel was so vivid. I expect to recognize Grace, this Angel of Transition, when she comes to help me.
I believe death is a permeable boundary. We all will penetrate it, but it is not something we have to fear. We don’t need to face it alone. Grace will lead us home.