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Lessons from Home: The last goodbye

By Rev. Ann Mann

annmann@comcast.net

It does not seem real. Every day I wake up and I expect to see my husband sitting on the couch, sipping his coffee, with our cat Tiger curled up next to him. I will never wake up to that beautiful sight again. We said our last goodbye on Thursday, August 18th, when my husband died of a massive brain bleed. 

When we went out to eat the Monday before, I had no idea it would be the last time we shared a meal together. I was at work Tuesday, with a full day scheduled, when he called and said his heart was racing and he might need to go to the emergency room. He had a sensitivity to preservatives. But those episodes always passed. So, I remember feeling a little frustrated. That quickly passed. I dropped everything and headed home. We called the doctor’s office, to see if we should go there or directly to the emergency room. They encouraged us to go on to the ER. 

I am glad we did. He was diagnosed with atrial fibrilation, and an unspecified infection. Of course, both are things you can recover from. On Thursday morning, he was having a good day. He sat up in the chair for a while, and we had a great visit. We hugged. We laughed. We planned for the days ahead. We even joked that he couldn’t die because I didn’t have any of his passwords. And then he said he was ready for a nap. So, we got him settled back in the bed. 

As soon as he got settled, he said something was wrong, he couldn’t feel his arm. Then he couldn’t feel his legs, and he couldn’t speak. He closed his eyes, and he never opened them again. I was escorted to a nearby room, where I prayed. And I cried. A sweet friend from church wrapped me in a warm embrace and gave the gift of just being present.  

The doctor came in and braced me for the worst, telling me it was not good news. He presented as a stroke. But in fact, it was a massive brain bleed over his entire left hemisphere. The damage was catastrophic. And it proved to be too much for his body to overcome. 

I prayed for miraculous healing. Everyone I know, and even people I don’t know, were praying for miraculous healing. And we got what we prayed for, only the healing wasn’t in our presence. 

In the days since that heart breaking loss, I have learned quite a lot. Say I love you every day. (We did, and I am so thankful for that.) 

Live life to the fullest. (Just this year we took an amazing trip out west with family to see some of God’s glorious creation, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, Sedona.) 

If you haven’t written down all your passwords, write them down. (Sadly, he thought he had time, he didn’t.) 

If you haven’t talked about your end of life plan, talk about it. (We had talked about it, so I was not left wondering about his wishes.) 

If you don’t have a will, make one. (We had a will.) 

If you don’t have life insurance, get some. (We had insurance.) 

If you don’t know Jesus, I invite you to meet him today. Email me, and I am happy to share the hope I have in Christ. I can move forward with living because I know where Kim is. The moment he breathed his last breath in this world, he was in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We will see each other again. I pray everyone knows the peace I have in Christ. 

And now, I will lean in to the love of our amazing family, our church family, and this amazing community to find a way forward without my beloved partner in life and ministry. 

Sweet friends, do not waste a single moment of your life, because you never know when you will by saying your last goodbye.

Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. 

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