“There’s going to be a surprise party for me. On the other side of that door. Over there!” exclaimed my brother during a lucid moment two days before his passing, his wife and son and Trish by his bedside at Mercy’s Heart Hospital. John’s smile reflected an inner certainty, the fruit of many days and nights of watching and waiting while his lungs and heart continued to fail.

And there were many family parties – holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, even gatherings following funerals John attended, his thoughtful presence contributing to the camaraderie. No matter that he was pressed on all sides by responsibilities, even failing health in later years. He knew what was important and showed up.

But this party would be different from any John had ever attended, one that would never wane. Waiting for him were loved ones, already engaged in that party who were coming for him. His excitement mounted. “Just on the other side of that door,” he repeated, playfulness tweaking his brown eyes.


We miss John but know his spirit thrives in his after-earth life. We feel the warmth of his presence in the same party to which we are also invited, even now. It’s a matter of the heart. In time, we too will be changed, “in the twinkling of an eye.” We, too, will be surprised … truths to soothe us while sitting in the fire of loss.