My brother-in-law died this week after a brief painful battle with cancer. We just got back from traveling to attend his memorial service and visit with the family. At the service, the presiding minister related a story from my sister about a conversation with her husband just before he died.
He asked the hospice worker to leave his room so he and my sister could have a private talk. After the aide left he said, "I know there is something I am supposed to tell you but I don't know what it is."
"Is it something you see?" she asked.
"Yes, that's it. I see your mother, my grandmother and your little niece ( who died of cancer aged 9) and others," he said.
Then he drifted off to sleep. A bit later he woke again. Thinking to divert him, she began describing the blooming flowers in their back yard: the Mexican heather, the daylilies, and the esperanza.
"What is esperanza?" he asked.
"You remember, the small yellow flowers," she replied.
"No," he repeated, somewhat agitated. "What does esperanza mean?"
She asked the hospice aide who spoke Spanish. "Esperanza means hope," she said.
Again, he drifted off to sleep. Then he awoke. "I want to go home," he said.
"You are home," she tried to assure him.
"You know what I mean," he replied. He died a short time later.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brother and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.