Way back a long time ago when I was a kid (in the dark ages of the 1980s), I took swimming lessons. By the end of the course, we had covered all the important stuff and the only thing left was the master the high dive. Now, I was a naturally wussy child, I was scared of heights, and terrified of falling. So it was no surprise that when I got to the top of the high dive, I just stood there - frozen. The water below seemed so far down. I knew that the water would catch me, and I knew that I could swim up to the surface and over to the side. It was just the act of getting to the water that had me immobilized.
I think that must be where my grandfather has been, standing on the edge of this life and the next, knowing that rest awaits but unable to let go in order to get there.
He entered hospice care with heart failure at the end of April. At that time, his heart was working at 10% capacity. His health had been declining from that point for the last 3 months. He clung to life, even when others thought it was impossible for him to continue. By the end, his mind had deteriorated to the point that reality and imagination often got mixed together, he was mostly unable to communicate as his mouth could no longer form words, and he had forgotten how to use a straw to drink liquids. His sleep was wrought with agitation, possibly nightmares. Three times we gathered family together to be by his bedside, and three times he surprised us all by being here the following morning.
He finally let go on Tuesday morning. Later that morning, as we cleaned out his room at hospice, I could see him in his bed resting peacefully at last. I was so proud of him. He had finally made it off the high dive and into the water.