This I Believe

Kathleen - Key West, Florida
Entered on February 11, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: afterlife, death
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I’ve been thinking for a few days now about what I would write. The story of my Father-in-Law’s passing years ago, which sealed my belief in the hereafter, seemed too morbid. But today, February 11, 2009, my Grandchildren’s other Grandmother passed from Cancer. Bernie (Bernadette) held my Grandchildren close and they love her very much; and I loved her all the more for that. So today, this seems right!

Frank (my Father-in-Law) had grown up during the Great Depression. His Father left to find work and never returned. He and his sister were shipped off to family at a young age when his mother re-married. Living in abusive circumstances, he ran away and joined the Circus at 16.

Frank got Lung Cancer and was in a Hospice program so he could die at home. My in-laws took turns traveling from upstate New York to Florida to stay with and help them through it all. We were the last to take the trip, and we could only stay two weeks; nobody had any leave left to use after our visit.

Poor Frank was in a very bad way, and aside from the pain and illness from the Cancer, he was seeing horrid things that we could not. We would all sit in the room with him talking as he would watch with terror the tops of the walls and ceilings, then duck and cover his head with his arms as if being attacked, crying out “don’t you see them, don’t you see them”! He would not tell us what things he saw, but he was terrified. He was terrified to die!

The evening before we were to leave, Frank took a turn for the worst. His lungs filled with fluid and he could not catch his breath. He hated hospitals and had signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order. The house broke into chaos. My Mother-in-Law was hysterical wanting an ambulance called. The Hospice Nurse was on the phone trying to remind her of Frank’s wishes for the DNR.

I suddenly found myself in the bedroom alone with Frank, with the Nurse on the phone trying to talk me through getting the medication into his lungs via the Rescue Inhaler, as he gasped for air. Through it all he was still was seeing whatever was terrorizing him. As hard as I tried, I just could not accomplish my task!

Being he was Catholic I knew what he needed to hear. I told him “It’s OK Dad, God loves you and forgives you; whatever you’ve done in your life, if you want to be forgiven now, you are forgiven. It’s OK to go now Dad! At that instant he stopped gasping, looked up at the top of the wall; a big smile came across his face, his eyes opened wide, and he said “Mommy”? Then he was gone.

See, WE are not our bodies, and only our bodies die. WE will continue on; freed from our prison cells. This I Believe!