The Door.

Posted by Colleen Woods on

It is quite useless knocking at the door of heaven for earthly comfort. It's not the sort of comfort they supply there.

C.S. Lewis


On the day that I was writing the previous post, Farewell to Summer, my mother suffered a terrible fall. She’s had a number of them in recent years. Fortunately, the injuries sustained had been remarkably minor — until this one. Her injuries are many and great and required a major surgery. She has overcome numerous things throughout her life and and has fought some pretty serious battles in the physical realm since suffering a stroke a number of years ago. I have admired her fighting spirit to overcome these things.

My father died in his sleep on the day of October’s exit in 1997. It had been a lovely autumn day until nightfall came, when a thick cloud of fog set in and obscured visibility to almost zero. I was out at a creative gathering of women and girls that evening with my daughter, and I was completely unaware that this fog had settled in while we were there, ten miles south of where we live. The journey home was slow and frightful. I was relieved when we exited the highway and landed on the city streets illuminated by lamplight that guided us home.

Sixteen days earlier, my parents had moved into a home they had purchased on the street where I live. They were newly retired and wanted to settle closer to their family. At the time, two of my siblings also resided here, so it seemed perfect. A light was still on at their house when we drove by, so we stopped in to say goodnight. My parents had already donned their pajamas for the night. A ten-minute delay probably would have found lights out. I gave my father a hug and a kiss and watched him head up the stairway to retire for the night as we exited.

I didn’t waste any time getting into bed myself that night. I was delighted to be out of the fog and back into the shelter of home. A different kind of fog settled in several hours later, when my husband and I were startled awake by a ringing doorbell and sounds of pounding on the front door. We headed there in a bit of a daze to find my mother standing on the doorstep. Before I could even raise a question, she made a startling statement, “Colleen, your father is dead. 

In the midst of the confusion, I asked a question in reply — “What do you mean, Mom?” Her answer: “He isn’t breathing.” I grabbed a jacket from the coatrack and headed out the door and across the lawn, arm in arm with her and my husband. The next few days were blurry at best.

While the mortuary men prepared to remove my father’s body from his new earthly home he had just started getting settled in, we gathered in a circle in the kitchen to pray. Tears and prayers were mingled together like flesh and bone. The Spirit of the LORD was there with us.

As the gurney carrying his lifeless body exited the house, I remembered another exit I'd shared with him a few years before. We were dressed like twins in our choir robes, exiting the choir loft on Easter morning at the close of the worship service. The men filed out ahead of the women, so I found him on the other side of the door that exited the sanctuary waiting for me. He gently took hold of my arm and ushered me aside to share a simple request with me. It caught me by surprise, but I said “yes” with tear-filled eyes and gave him a great big hug.

We’d been singing alleluias.

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