At 11:30 p.m. I laid my head on the pillow in the bedroom just adjacent to where my Dad was lying. I said, “Jesus, please let it be tonight.” I must have been so exhausted I went into a deep sleep almost immediately, because at 11:40 p.m. my youngest brother Kenan shook me awake (and I am a notoriously light sleeper) and said:
“Keith, get up. He’s gone. He just stopped breathing.”
I threw on a t-shirt and walked back into the room where my Dad had been laying on his deathbed for three weeks, battling cancer. As I entered the room, I knew instantly that indeed Dad was “gone.” My sister was already weeping deeply. My cousin who was the world’s best caretaker to my Dad over these last nine months was crying softly at the foot of his bed. My wife was crying at the head of the bed. I walked toward Dad’s body, my wife shuffled to let me get to him. I took a moment to console my sister and tell her “It’s alright. Everything is alright now.” I laid my right hand on his forehead and my left hand on his neck. I had the honor and privilege of feeling Dad’s final “pulse,” those final few beats, as they weakened, then stopped.
“I praise You O God! I praise You O God! I thank You for the gift of my Dad. What a gift. What a gift!”
I am sure I said more through tears, but I distinctly remember saying these words, as my youngest brother said “amens” and “hallelujahs.” Jesus had answered my prayer that night swiftly!
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).
My sister, one of my brothers, my wife and cousin and I then gathered around my Dad’s body and sang two stanza’s of the hymn “There’s a Land That is Fairer Than Day.” We were so sad, but so full of joy. Fighting in the power of the Holy Spirit to see things with God’s eyes.
That was two weeks ago. It has seemed like one long day. My wife and girls and I have had moments of deep sadness and moments of laughter at good memories. My church family has been nothing short of amazing. And we are finding God really is “near to the brokenhearted.”
I am not sure why I am compelled to write this today. It’s cathartic for me, I suppose. I have nothing profound to offer my few readers in this post. Only to say that Dad was my hero. Of all humans on this planet, he was at the top of my respect and admiration hierarchy. My love for him was as pure as love can be in this fallen world. I was and am so blessed to be chosen by God to be the son of Don W. McWhorter.
But greater still the sheer joy that fills my heart at knowing Dad, and I, are chosen of God to be His adopted sons in Christ Jesus our Lord! For the last few months of his life, I started a little ritual with Dad. When I left him, whether for a few days or a few hours, I would say, “Dad, I will see you again.” His eyes would light up with that fire only those closest to him knew, as he looked at me and said, “That’s right! That’s right!”
It bolstered both our spirits. No goodbyes. No sir! Jesus made that a thing of the past for His redeemed!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ (Rev 21:1-4).
O, what a Savior! What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see! And, I will see Dad again too! And though I am so sad I cannot pick up the phone and hear his voice right now, I know there is coming a day when Dad and I will visit in immortal bodies. Our minds no longer cluttered by sin. Our hearts pure in love for God and one another. Our vocal chords tuned perfectly to sing to our Lord Christ.
And we shall sing, “Worthy is the Lamb!” Together. With all the saints from all the ages.
O death, where is your sting?