Walking in the Shadows

I sit with my dad in the valley of shadows.

Waiting and watching for what will be to close in

as Death flits around the room on wings of time.

I sit closed in while my heart flutters with disjointed syncopation

fighting lungs and airways that want to close off with grief.

My face crumples, now and then, suddenly with no warning,

the Battle lost for a time, as its’ grip squeezes out emotion.

I dissociate from the grief as details and tasks send in intrusive soldiers

to bar me from fountains too deep to spring forth without thought and reflection.

My eyes burn with unshed tears that spring off and on to the surface

and my nose drips drips drips with an overflowing pool of sadness and grief.

I watch the slow movement of the shadows as they slide ever closer to his side.

His labored breathing, medicated to the nines, forces them away time and again,

a swing and parry of death against life to the end.  His body wants to keep on, his spirit,

so strong and viable, so eager to BE, grows ever weaker with the onslaught of the enemy.

I tell him, “Dad, its’ ok, I will take care of mom, she is ok, we are ok.  Be at peace.”

I see his chest raise once more, then relax.  He is gone.


10 comments on “Walking in the Shadows

  1. This is such a beautiful account of your dad’s last moments and you telling it is ok for him to go. I know that one well. I am so sorry for your lose Lori but I know it has been a very difficult time for you and your family. My thoughts are with you at this time.

  2. A Cutting-Through Psalm, by David (Psalm 23)

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    In lush pastures, he lays me to rest; He guides me over the comforting waters .
    My soul overflows
    He leads me on paths of righteousness,
    For the sake of His Name.
    Although I walk through the valley, overshadowed by death,
    I shall fear no evil, for You are with me.
    Your Rod and Your Staff, they comfort me.
    You prepare a table before me,
    In full view of my enemies.
    You have anointed my head with oil,
    My cup overflows.
    May only goodness and kindness pursue me,
    All the days of my life,
    And I shall dwell in the House of the Lord
    For all the length of days.*


    Please forgive the clumsy translation. I thought you might get a tiny bit of comfort from this, but I also know that at this time there is no comfort, only tears; so this psalm will cut through the barriers to tears and let them flow as He guides you.


    • I am amazed that you translated this right from Hebrew !(?) It is a great comfort as it is one of my favorites and it is spot on what my English Bible says, which makes me feel much better about the Bible I own if it is so close to the Hebrew text! Thank you for the translation. I have a beautiful song taken from this passage, perhaps I will record it. Do you know the music of the original psalm? You are a great fount of knowledge for original Hebrew and Jewish traditions, Laura and I am so grateful for that! You should post more on Jewish traditions, if you get the inspiration. The only Jewish family I knew growing up went to my church, and as they called themselves “Completed Jews”, having become Christian and believing that Jesus was God’s promised messiah–they talked some about traditional Jewish celebration but that wasn’t their focus as much anymore. So I have little knowledge of traditional Judaism outside of reading the OT.

      • I’m glad you liked it. Yes, it’s straight from the mouth of King David, in the original Hebrew, with as literal a translation as I could make on the spot. Glad to hear your Bible is close, too. It aggravates me when the Psalms are “messed with.” Each of them has its own special energy.

        Singing Psalms is an interesting thing. You know in Psalm 137 where it says,

        “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down,
        And we wept, when we remembered Zion
        We hung our lyres on the willows within it [the river]
        Because our captors demanded from us
        Words of joyous song and music, saying,
        “Sing for us the songs of Zion!”
        How can we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?”

        This was a prophecy on David’s part, because the Babylonian captivity happened many years after he wrote this Psalm. But it tells us what happened to the music that originally went with the Psalms: the Levites, who were the “official” singers of the Holy Temple, refused to sully the sacred songs by singing them for their captors.

        Fortunately for us, there are pockets of Jews who never left the Holy Land, but went into hiding in the desert. They have retained the precious knowledge of how to sing the Psalms. I managed to get hold of a scratchy recording of a man singing them, so if I ever get the energy I will have to learn them!

        In the mean time modern Jews of various “flavors” (and by “modern” I mean starting with the 17th century) have composed tunes (called niggunim) for many of the Psalms, and we sing them on specific occasions or just “because,” except not in the bathroom!

        You’re right, I should write more Jewish stuff on my blog. Now you’ve given me two assignments for 2014: Banjo, and Judaism–two of my passions!

  3. A friend texted me when my friends young son died recently this was the text “May the cold dark place that is in your heart today, be some day brightened and warmed by the wealth of memories you shared”
    I am so sad to hear your awful news. Your dad is at peace and no longer suffering, but the days, weeks and months ahead are so sad and lonely for you, your mom and family.
    I hope your Dad makes his presence felt and you find strength.

    • THey will be and at least I am aware of it and I know that God and friends will comfort and support us. Knowing he isn’t suffering anymore and is, in my religious system, in Glory with God, is a great comfort to me.

  4. Thank you for sharing these last moments…I am sure it will help others bear the pain and turmoil. I am saddened. You have had to endure so much. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  5. Your Dad will have started his journey in the comfort of having you there beside him as he went. Though this will be a time of tremendous sadness the New Year will provide you with Love and Laughter enough to replace the tears and provide the warmth of the memories you shared.
    xxx Always Massive Hugs xxx

    • Yes it is hard to start the new year grieving and to have Dec 31 as a day of sadness, but as the year departs perhaps it is fitting as well. I will forever remember dad on New Year’s eve and that will add a layer of meaningfulness to the day.

  6. God will comfort you and your mom and hold you through this very difficult time

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