Posted on Jan 1, 2015 in Blog |

Jeff’s father, James Rainey, died on New Year’s Eve, 2014.  I wrote this poem four hours later, recounting all the things I said to him in his final few days and hours.  I didn’t want to forget.


I love you.

You created two beautiful children who learned your kindness and generosity. You did a good job of raising them. You should be proud.

Thank you for giving me the most wonderful husband I could have dreamed of.

Thank you for loving me unconditionally. In 25 years, you never said an unkind or unsupportive word. You never spoke to me in anger.

It’s ok to let God take over now.

Do whatever you need to do to get up there.

Come to me in my dreams and show me what heaven looks like. I want a preview!

You are so loved by so many people.

When you get to heaven you will no longer be limited in your hearing, sight, speech, or mobility. Your soul will be free of all limitations. And you will be in paradise.

The blue in your eyes is fading which tells me you are preparing to leave. It’s ok to leave. But I am so going to miss your aqua gaze.

A friend of mine sang songs to his brother as he lay dying. I would try that but I am afraid it may hasten your departure.

And I don’t know what songs I would sing. I know you loved opera. But that just isn’t going to happen.

Should I read to you from a book?  I’m not sure what you want to hear right now. I don’t want to sound like an audio recording.

Thank you for reading my book over and over and over. And complimenting me every time you read it. I think next to Jeff, you are my biggest fan.

You are so loved.

I want to curl up here in bed and lie next to you. I want to never leave your side until you leave us. I want to keep caressing your arm, running my fingers through your snowy hair, holding your hand and telling you I love you. But I don’t think a daughter in law should do that. I think they might think it’s a little weird.

I don’t care that they might think it’s weird. You treated me like a daughter. You loved me like a daughter.

I didn’t realize it, but dying is really hard work. It’s torturous and beautiful to watch.

My friend Lisa’s father died this past weekend and she didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Thank you for giving each of us the opportunity to say goodbye. Thank you for letting us spend time with you, holding you, talking to you. Thank you for giving us this time and space.

What color is heaven?

I think it’s the color of your eyes.

I think it tastes like the flourless chocolate cakes you baked on my birthdays.

I think it smells like the ocean air off your 17th floor balcony.

And I think your heaven sounds like your summertime clambakes.

It’s ok to let go. We will be all right here.

Yes that’s Heather in the other room. You keep looking at the door when you hear her laugh.

Remember her report cards?  “Heather needs to focus a little more on her schoolwork and a little less on her social life.”

Your skin looks better today. I can’t tell if it’s because it really looks better or because I want it too.

I’m glad the seizures seem to be over. It made me wonder if you were in pain. It was easier when you could talk or blink and tell me yes or no about the pain. Are you in pain, Jim? Squeeze my hand if you are in pain.

You look different today. I don’t know if your soul is still there. It’s as though most of it is gone and just a little bit is attached to your body by a thread. Should I be looking up in the room to talk to you? Because you just don’t seem to be in there anymore.

Who is with you? Who is greeting you? Can you see the angels yet? What do they say to you?

I’m so grateful to you for all the things you have given to me and done for me.  Thank you for everything.

Joey is very sad that he can’t be here in person. I’m glad he got to tell you everything over the phone. He loves you so much. He will always carry a piece of you in his heart.

I know. Stephen doesn’t say much does he?  I don’t know what he shared with you. But I know he held your hand a lot these past few days.

You are his first grandparent death. And it hurts. So spend a little time with him after you leave ok?  Let him know you are ok. Come to him in his dreams, or let him feel your spirit. Something, ok?

You are one stubborn man, James Rainey.

I’m taking your brown fuzzy blanket.

I want to let go of you completely. I know you need that in order to leave. But it’s really hard to do this. I still need you; I still want you to stay. I’m being selfish, I know.

It’s ok to leave Jim. I’ll be ok without you. Jeff takes such good care of me, but you already know that. You know how much I love and adore your son. He is the best person who ever came into my life. Thank you for giving him to me.

You should be so proud of your son. You know how uncomfortable he is in these situations. And yet he sits with you and holds your hand. I watch him from the doorway. With every seizure you have, he says, “It’s ok Dad, l’m here with you now. I’m not leaving. I love you Dad.” And then he gives your hand a gentle squeeze in case you can’t hear him. He wants you to feel him here with you.

He’s trying to tell you it’s ok to go. He’s going to be ok without you.

That’s my favorite blue shirt on you. It matches your eyes.

You gave us Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thank you for staying with us through the holidays.

Five days ago, you said you had gone enough places, met enough people and done enough things. You didn’t need to go anywhere or do anything or meet anyone new.

I agree.

It’s time for you to go home Jim.

I love you too.