It has been eight days since our 100-year old Mimi was rushed to the hospital with seizures.  The ER doctor told us she expected that Mimi would go sometime over the weekend, yet here we are, eight days later, still sitting by her bed and waiting.  The hospice nurse says that death is now imminent, but we thought that before.  This dying process is taking a long time and I am learning quite a bit in the process.  It is a lot like giving birth.  

Her type of death usually takes about four weeks, and looking back, I know when it began.  She began to withdraw from people and activities, and was eating less than her normal bird-sized meals.  Things were beginning to shut down.  There was a scary ambulance ride to the ER.  Then a CT scan revealed a large brain tumor.  We thought we would lose her within hours but she “rallied,” a word I have never associated with dying.

It was during this rally that God drew back the curtain of Heaven and gave her a sneak preview of her eternal home.  And she told us all about it.  Oh the sights she saw!  Even the hospital staff was in awe.  I will be forever grateful for that time with her.  Since then she has been mostly sleeping. 

She has been at Clarehouse since Monday, and what a blessing it is that they had a bed available.  She has a beautiful suite, but the smell of death hangs heavy.  It clings to my hair and my skin, and I wonder how long it will last.  So I moved to the deck outside her room that overlooks a creek and a copse of trees.  Occasionally a butterfly from the butterfly garden flutters by.  An owl sits in a hollow tree behind me, his nocturnal eyes closed to the bright daylight.  A light breeze blows.  In the distance I can here the sounds of cars; life goes on around us, oblivious to the eight or so people here who are transitioning from this world to the next.

I have been praying for months that God would take her peacefully in her sleep.  I guess I should have been more specific.  My idea was that she would go about her day, go to bed, fall asleep, and wake up in Heaven.  I wasn’t planning on eight days and nights of sleep!  But God is in charge and I am not.  Scripture tells us that all our days were ordained by God before we were ever conceived. He knew the day we would come into the world and He knows the day we will leave.  

People tell me that they understand that sitting vigil is hard.  Well yes and no.  There have been some hard moments, some sad moments and some long moments.  We leave for bits of time, but feel like we should come back. And when we are here we feel useless. it’s a good deal of waiting. But mostly, it is my honor to sit here with her.  She has lived a good long life.  Everyone has said their goodbyes and said what they needed to say. I am so grateful I get to spend these last hours with her. 

Author: Fran Carona, Ph.D.

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and licensed clinical psychologist.

12 thoughts on “SITTING VIGIL”

  1. Fran, I have been in your shoes and it is hard but peaceful at the same time. Her visions of my daddy and my uncle Tony have touched my heart in ways I can’t even describe. Love my Aunt Fay and your entire family. Martha

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Oh Fran I got chills when she told you she got a glimpse of Heaven! What an honor to get to see your Heavenly home and get to testify to its splendor. She has come to the gate and is just patiently waiting to enter.
    O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
    But thanks be to God, which giveth us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57


    1. I totally understand. It is a bittersweet time. A sorrow and a privilege. Grace and mercy to her and all the family.


  3. What a beautiful, painful, blessed time of loving and remembering!
    “Precious memories, how they linger.
    How they ever flood my soul!
    In the stillness of the midnight
    Precious, sacred scenes unfold.”
    Our thoughts and love,
    Dan and Connie Taylor


  4. Fran you have so beautifully said what it is like to Sit Vigil. I remember all too well sitting with both my Mother and Daddy waiting for that last breath, hoping and praying it won’t come and other the other hand saying please God let it be now. Knowing what awaited both of them let me get through it. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Jerry and all of the girls, spouses, grandchildren and everyone that knew Jerry’s sweet Mother❤️


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