I used to sit in the little blue over-stuffed chair in the corner of our room watching him breathe. He was trying to live and trying to die at the same time.

Scientists say married couples’ breathing and heart rhythms begin to synchronize after a time. Others may not understand, but you and I know it’s true. When the final pause between the inhale and exhale wasn’t a pause any longer . . . when there weren’t any more breaths to come and the waiting was over . . .  your heart stopped, and you couldn’t catch your breath. Me either. Even if you weren’t there; even if there were miles between you and your spouse . . .  you felt it.

On a rainy afternoon in April, after the pauses had grown longer between each heaving effort to breathe, my husband of twenty-two years exhaled for the last time—and we said goodbye.

I’m holding my breath now, years later, as I write and remember, and I’m wondering what circumstances brought you here to this booklet, to this page. I can almost see you; it seems you are holding your breath too.

We’re both here for the same reason. Your spouse has taken their last breath and your breathing is labored; but hold fast, believer. Though your spouse is not here any longer, and you feel their presence as profoundly as their absence, Scripture tells us that Jesus Himself experienced what it is to take a first breath, and He knows what it is to take His last. The omnipresent God, Maker of Heaven and Earth reigns in the transactions of life, breath, and death, and it was His passion that left His Spirit here to keep you breathing.

God’s breath, the overflowing life of His Spirit will continue to course into yours. You will inhale and exhale again without catching your breath on the jagged edge of your pain. You will catch your breath, and you will live, because your God is the God of the living and the dead.

Susan VandePol


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