This blog post is part 4 of a 4 part series. I thought this series may be helpful to anyone who is facing the death of a loved one or knows anyone that has passed away. At times you may find it difficult to read, yet in the end I hope you can see the inspiration and gratitude I found in this 24 hour period.
Next, I had to go tell the children and Ian’s mother. Pierre prepared some eggs and then we drove over to Marian’s where Rob had spent the night. When we arrive, Rob and Barb were on a walk so we told Marian. She of course took the news very hard. Once Rob came in I took him and sat him on my lap and said, “Robbie, I’m so sorry but Daddy died last night.” Robbie wailed, “But I wanted to sleep with him one more night!” He was crushed, as I was for having to tell him. He cried, and cried. It was just heart breaking.
Marc and I then drove over to pick up Jenna from her sleep over. The night before, she had been invited at the last minute to spend the night at her friend, Lizzy’s. I walked in and took her to the side and said, “I’m so sorry honey, but Daddy died this morning at 1 am.” Jenna hardly blinked an eye and said, “Oh that’s sad, can I go tell my friends?” I said yes, so she trotted down to the basement and after gathering her things together, she casually said, “My Dad died this morning.” The three other girls gasped and were shocked and stunned. They all ran and gave her a hug. We left the house and stopped at Duncan Donuts.
Later that day Marc, Pierre and I took the kids to Kane Funeral Home. After arriving, the funeral director explained to the kids how Daddy would look. He would be laying on a hospital gurney with a sheet over him, up to his chin. He explained that Daddy was gone to heaven and this was just his body. The kids were scared and tentative. Jenna didn’t want to go first. So Rob and I went in and Rob just walked right up to Ian and threw his arm over his chest. Then he tip toed up and gave him a kiss on the cheek and then another hug. He was crying.
Jenna was standing at the door crying, so I went back and slowly walked forward with her. She was very scared and terrified. She wanted to go up to Ian, but didn’t. I asked if she wanted me to give Daddy a hug and kiss and she said yes. So I did. His body was as stiff as a board and when I kissed him his skin was cold and firm, like kissing a cold watermelon. I stepped back and told Jenna to feel the table and that Daddy felt just like that. It was a shell and had gone hard. She very reluctantly stepped forward and gave Daddy a big hug. She stayed for several seconds and just sobbed. It was the first time she had cried since hearing the news of her father’s death. She stepped back with me and I asked if she was ready to go, and she said yes. I told her we could stay as long as she wanted. She was ready to go. We turned to leave and she ran back and gave Ian one last hug. Then Rob went back and gave one more hug and we walked out.
The kids were crying very hard and I was trying to comfort them as best as possible. Marc and Pierre were very comforting and soothing to the kids as well. Danny, the funeral director, had things I need to sign. I said than you so much for making Ian look so good. He looked beautiful. Danny turned and said, “Your welcome Mrs. Sharpe, but you are the hero here. The way you helped your children was incredible. This will be a moment they will never forget. I’ve seen many viewings and you were a rock.” I felt surprised by this reaction as I did just what I felt I should have done, nothing more and certainly nothing less.
I had never been so close to death before. When I was eleven, while I was visiting my dad’s parents my mother’s father died. I didn’t attend the service and I had no concept of death. And now here I am age 37, with two children 8 and 10 and my own husband died in my bed early this morning. And yet, the biggest thing I feel is relief. Seven years of endurance ended on 2/22/04, when Ian was 44 years old.
I think Ian chose his time. The kids were sleeping away from the house that evening; I was in another bedroom, dreaming of Heaven. He was in his bedroom, his best friend, Pierre, was sitting at his side listening to his belabored breathing. Ian felt peace. He felt safe, he felt love, he felt no guilt, he let go. He didn’t want to go, he fought and he fought and he fought, but he knew there was no other way and he let go – it was the perfect way in the perfect place and in the perfect situation. It could not have been planned better. It was almost as if for the last 24 hours we had been set up in a magical chess game, and with each move we made we were one step closer to the ultimate check mate.