Friday, January 29, 2010

Go Down Death

I got an email from a blogging friend the other day...she asked me to pray for her because her father is in hospice and my not have much time left. I immediately said one. Then I started thinking of my dad. I know exactly how she father was in hospice for awhile before he passed on.
                 He had COPD and was til the end a chronic smoker. His hospice was in Pinellas Park Florida and I lived here in York Pa. In life my father was a very "complicated" man. I found out after his death that he had been diagnosed with being Bi-Polar when he was younger but was never treated. Growing up with him was scary and hurtful and fearful, but it was also full of laughter and daring and experiences. If you know anything about bi-polar you know they have wild mood swings. From deep dark shopping like crazy and being happy.
                 I think in his heart of hearts he wanted to be a good father. I really do. But the reality was, he wasnt. He was abusive and manipulative and controlling and in the end he died alone. Because of our relationship I never made it a point to go see him. Even though I KNEW he was in hospice. When he died I realized what a fool I had been. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE should die alone without loved ones around. That will always be my biggest regret. I should have been a better daughter AND a better Christian and gone and visited him. Regardless of our relationship!!!
               So as I thought of my blogging buddy, I thought what a joy for her to live near her father. What a blessing to be able to spend the last of his days together and to be able to offer comfort and support to her mother. Someday she will look back and remeber the love that was felt and feel peace.  I wanted to share with her a poem that has always brought me peace when a loved one has died. Its written by James Wheldon Johnson. He was an amazing man who accomplished so much!  I hope she enjoys it and I hope she knows I pray for her nightly!


Weep not, weep not,

She is not dead;

She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.

Heart-broken husband--weep no more;

Grief-stricken son--weep no more;

Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more;

She only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,

God was looking down from his great, high heaven,

Looking down on all his children,

And his eye fell of Sister Caroline,

Tossing on her bed of pain.

And God's big heart was touched with pity,

With the everlasting pity.

And God sat back on his throne,

And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:

Call me Death!

And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice

That broke like a clap of thunder:

Call Death!--Call Death!

And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven

Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,

Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,

And he leaped on his fastest horse,

Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.

Up the golden street Death galloped,

And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,

But they didn't make no sound.

Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,

And waited for God's command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,

Go down to Savannah, Georgia,

Down in Yamacraw,

And find Sister Caroline.

She's borne the burden and heat of the day,

She's labored long in my vineyard,

And she's tired--

She's weary--

Do down, Death, and bring her to me.

And Death didn't say a word,

But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,

And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,

And out and down he rode,

Through heaven's pearly gates,

Past suns and moons and stars;

on Death rode,

Leaving the lightning's flash behind;

Straight down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,

She turned her eyes and looked away,

She saw what we couldn't see;

She saw Old Death.She saw Old Death

Coming like a falling star.

But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;

He looked to her like a welcome friend.

And she whispered to us: I'm going home,

And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,

And she lay in his icy arms,

But she didn't feel no chill.

And death began to ride again--

Up beyond the evening star,

Into the glittering light of glory,

On to the Great White Throne.

And there he laid Sister Caroline

On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,

And he smoothed the furrows from her face,

And the angels sang a little song,

And Jesus rocked her in his arms,

And kept a-saying: Take your rest,

Take your rest.

Weep not--weep not,

She is not dead;

She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.


Laurie said...

It must be the time of year, the dark bleak days of Winter that stir the feelings we have from loved ones passed. I posted of this a week ago on my blog. Rest assured, even though you weren't there, your father did not die alone. He was surrounded by family that were waiting for him in Heaven. No one dies alone, I strongly believe that. God Bless you, and your friend. Death is a very hard thing to deal with, and we never think that the pain will go away. But it eases up and life is easier to bear.

Laurie said...

Oh I forgot to add, that I have a daughter-in-law who was just diagnosed with bipolar, and it's exactly as you discribed. She is in intensive therapy now, medicated, and hopefully now she can come back to us.

trisha too said...

That is a wonderful poem, thank you for sharing it.

What Laurie said up there. She's right.

And you know you have to forgive not only your father, but yourself.

Big hugs to you, my dear "imaginary" friend!

trisha too said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tipper said...

I have a family member who is bipolar so I can relate to the ups and downs you were talking about.

I'm sorry things didn't work out better for you and your Dad. The poem is very moving.