But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. — Luke 24:29 (KJV)
It has been 51 days since my father died. I wrote at the time how I woke my mother up and told her of his death. She came in her wheelchair to the room where he lay, and she saw his body. She came to the viewing of his body at the funeral home, and she was at the graveside service and the memorial service. But she has not really been able to take in the reality of his death. Almost every time I see her, she asks where he is.
This past week, we celebrated her birthday with family and friends. She was in her wheelchair, and for some time I sat next to her to watch over her during the party. I told her who all the guests were, and she asked me, "Where is Lou?" As usual when she asks this question, I said, "Dad passed away, Mom. Do you remember? You were at his memorial service. He's in heaven now." As usual, she accepted this and seemed to remember that it was true once she was reminded.
My sister was here from out of state for the celebration. After her last visit before going home, she came back to my house in tears. When she was leaving, my Mom had asked her, "Where is he?" "Who, Mom?" "Lou."
They were married for 64 years, five months, and eleven days. No wonder she can't comprehend life without him.
When I knew my mom's mom in her old age, she loved the hymn "Abide With Me." If I fiddled around on the piano, I could be sure of a grateful comment if I played that hymn. It is the beautiful prayer of one approaching death. I pray it on my mom's behalf.
Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Words: Henry F. Lyte
Tune: "Eventide," William H. Monk