When I got up yesterday morning, I knew it was going to be the day. I just had a feeling in my spirit. I’ve learned to respond to those feelings because God has done this for me the entire time Clay has been sick. I texted the nurse early and told her Clay’s breathing had been difficult in the night.
He actually called my name a few times when he was hurting to take a deep breath. This morning, as I’m typing those words, I’m realizing that the Lord did that so I could remember the last time I heard him say, “Kristy.” It was sweet because, in his pain, he wanted me. He always wanted me. Close. He wanted to sit right beside me at every table we ever sat at. He wanted me in the same room with him if we were at a party. He wanted me right beside his lazy boy if we were at home. He always wanted to be with me. And, I always wanted him.
My mom had spent the night with me, so we were drinking our coffee on the balcony with the doors to the bedroom wide open when the nurse arrived. It was such a beautiful morning. The birds were chirping, the wind was blowing, and the sun was shining. Julie looked at Clay and took his vitals. She couldn’t get a blood pressure. So, I knew these words were coming, but I couldn’t have imagined how it would feel to actually hear them.
“It’s probably going to be today.”
Y’all, there are so many requests I’ve made to the Lord during this time. When I pray, I always say, “Lord, you know best, so I want your will, but these are the things I think I want….” I didn’t want Clay to pass in the night. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted Dr. Gummadi to be here. I wanted our family here. I wanted the kids right by his side. I didn’t want to be surprised. I wanted it to be peaceful. I wanted to be singing and praying and holding hands. I wanted our Pastors to be here. I wanted to feel the presence of God. I wanted worship music playing. I wanted to be holding Clay’s head because I’ve known that Jesus has been holding his head this entire time.
All of that happened. It was the hardest, most excruciating feeling, but all my desires were met.
Our close family started arriving around 11:00 am. We left the doors open almost all day for the fresh air to come in. We laughed, cried, told some stories, talked about Clay’s life. There was plenty of food for everyone and we all just lingered with him. I read him my devotional for the day. It was written just for us. It’s crazy how God does that. The book was written in the ’50’s, but the entry on September 12 was exactly what we needed to hear that day.
At about 6:20, I asked everyone to step out of the room so me and the kids could be alone with Clay for a minute. The four of us got close to him and loved on him. I talked to the kids about heaven and what was going to happen. They had a chance to ask me questions that were on their minds that they didn’t want to ask in front of people. It was a very precious 20 minutes. We cried and told him we love him.
Just as I told Sam to tell everyone they could come back, his breathing changed. Ben ran to tell Dr. G, while Grace and I just held his hands. I told her, “This is it, Grace. This is it.” Clay’s cousin Amy texted me this morning that it seemed like Clay was waiting for that moment alone with us before he could let go.
He labored to breathe for a while. The sound was uncomfortable. I reminded the kids that Dr. G had told us repeatedly that he can’t feel anything at this point. So, although it sounds bad, he’s not hurting. But I started praying right away. Lord, please take the sound away. Let it be peaceful.
After a while, I got right in his ear and started singing…
What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see….
Clay’s mom had just come down the day before and she sang that to him while he laid in the bed. It came right to my mind and I just started singing it to him. He calmed down almost immediately. The breathing became quiet. Still labored, but quiet. His last breath wasn’t even very pronounced. He just quietly took it and we waited to see if he would breath again. I laid my head on his chest and heard one beat. Then nothing.
As soon as I thought he was really gone, an alarm started going off in the room. I am so perturbed by cell phones interrupting quiet moments. But, not this time. It was my “Take the trash out alarm” that goes off every Tuesday night at 7 pm. Y’all. He died almost exactly at 7 pm. 7 is God’s number. What a wonderful thought. God knew exactly when He wanted to bring Clay home.
This morning, I’m sitting in my bedroom, reading your Facebook comments and text messages, while my three beautiful children sleep beside me. God blessed me with some really great kids. They are strong. What they experienced yesterday was something most kids their age will never dream of. But, I trust God to use it in their lives to accomplish something great.
I keep thinking about how Clay had no regrets. My cousin, Lori, called me a while back and said that to me. It got me really thinking about how Clay had time to tell everyone how he felt, see everyone he wanted to see, tell the world about Jesus, go to the places he wanted to go, spend time with his family. He died with no regrets. No words unspoken. No lose ends. Nothing undone. What a blessing.
We are finalizing the details, but his services will most likely be this Friday evening and Saturday. Times to be announced. The services will be held at Healing Place Church. We would love for you to come and take part in this celebration of a life lived well. I will post all the details soon.
I leave you with this amazing thought that just came to me. We took these family photos about 5 weeks ago. Ashleigh Cormier (Ashleigh Jayne Photography) did such a beautiful job on them. She took this last picture of us together that day. It was her idea. She just told us, “Ok, for the last shot, I need you all up on that hill right there.” Clay was tired and he looked at me like he wasn’t sure he could make it to the top. But, we held hands and made it up there.
This morning, when I looked at it, I was reminded of the blog I wrote almost a year ago titled, “Morning Will Come And I will Stand On A Hill.” It’s a powerful message God used to comfort us. And, what a beautiful thought for me now. The morning has come, and we are standing on a hill. We’ve crossed over the sea. The night has ended and the pillar of fire led us to the other side. We are standing on a hill, watching our enemy get washed away by the floods of the Red Sea. He thought he would win, but he is defeated.
Clay is with Jesus, and the four of us will continue on. There are more battles ahead, as we take our Promised Land. There are more hard days ahead. But, God just brought us across the Red Sea and completely wiped out our enemy. There is no giant too big. No task too great.
We will go on. And, we will see our promise. Morning has come.