“She’s in intensive care, not expected to live.”
I called the hospital to ask if we could see Janie. “Yes, but you’d better hurry,” the nurse said. “Where are you?” When I answered, her voice faltered. “We think ten or fifteen minutes.”
Stunned, my husband, Wally, and I slumped into our chairs. We couldn’t be there in time. Would we go anyway? We talked, agonized, then calmed ourselves, deciding to be with Janie in spirit, and sat in silence, holding her in love and prayer. Year before last when Janie was hospitalized for the entire summer, she asked me to bring my Native American flutes. As I played, she listened, eyes closed, smiling, an occasional tear slipping from beneath her closed eyelids. I knew she would like my flute music to accompany her now.
From our living room, I faced the beautiful snow-covered Mt. Sopris Janie loved, and played as if I were by her side, breathing with her as she made her transition, each flute tone fading, each breath shallower and farther apart, until the music drifted into a brief moment of silence, then exploded into a joyous burst of ascending arpeggios as I envisioned Janie’s soul releasing. Wally and I sat prayerfully in the peaceful stillness for a few minutes, then decided to go on with our day.
About a half an hour later I was in the middle of a business call and Wally was standing in the kitchen when suddenly the television set blared on. Startled, we looked at each other. Wally rushed to turn off the TV. Neither of us had turned it on. The electricity hadn’t flickered. Fifteen minutes later I was on a second phone call, Wally was typing on his laptop, and the television blared on a second time. I slapped my hand over the phone. “What’s wrong with that thing?” I grumbled. Wally turned the remote over and over in his hands. “Maybe there’s some sort of timer.” There wasn’t. A while later when I had finished my calls and he had finished typing, the television blared on for a third time, and I froze.
“Wally! Could that be Janie?”
“Could it?” He looked stunned. “I think it is. It is!”
At 10:30 we received word that Janie had passed at 7:30, about the time I was playing the flute. I spent the morning alternatively crying and laughing, not from deep wrenching grief, but rather from a "light" grief , and from awe. In joy.
I’ve heard stories of visits from loved ones who have died---whose bodies have died---, but until today, that had never happened to me--to us---in such a dramatically physical way. I believe Janie was totally aware of our love and our presence, and came to say, “Hey, guys! I got it. Thanks. I’m fine.” By the second visit, I imagine she was a bit ticked off that we weren’t getting it, and by the third she was telling us, “Pay attention! I’m not hanging around here all day. I’ve got better places to go!”
Janie, Janie, Janie, what a gift you have given us---evidence that boosts believing into knowing, a gift that will change our lives forever.