This is a letter I received from Colleen Todd. She has given me permission to reprint this edited version. The love and beauty in this letter touched me greatly. It is a testament to how the dying experience can become a sacred act for all involved. My wish for everyone.
On June 16, 2014, at 11:00 AM, my very best friend, Frank F. Thomas, 96 years and nine months, passed away, peacefully in my arms.
Molly, his other caregiver, and my new Pastor friend were with us also. The hours from 10:30 AM until 5:00 PM were such a sacred blessing!!! And all with such gratitude for your books!!!
A friend had given me your book “Gone From My Sight” in December 2013. I wanted to know more about the end of life journey. Not only what to look for, but how I could be of help in Frank's journey. I didn’t get around to ordering them online until May 13, 2014.
In God’s perfect timing, I had to call the ambulance to take Frank to the emergency room at 11:30 PM of that same day. What sounded like a small amount of congestion at 7:00 PM was serious pneumonia at midnight. He also had a small stroke.
Your four books arrived and I read them continuously over and over as did Molly and two of the nurses. Before Frank went into the hospital I had also ordered a small voice recorder. I now have our conversations, Frank and I, forever.
By June 3, 2014 (21 days later) Frank was not responding and improving as he should have been so Frank’s Doctor asked him to make the decision to either move into the nursing home or choose comfort care. The doctor was more than wonderful and discussed this very sensitive matter with more compassion and even prayers than we have ever seen from medical personnel. Our pastor had experience with hospice and was very helpful along side your books.
I was so very thankful that God and Frank gave me the time I needed to read through all four of your books and process my own goodbyes. Your books answered questions I didn’t even know to ask, which in turn made the end of life journey such a huge blessing for Frank, Molly and myself. We would not have had the peace, calm and understanding of the process going on in Frank's body and mind without your precious books and our pastor’s prayer and presence.
The stroke did not affect Frank’s mind and he was brilliant and lucid until only about 30 hours before he died. I am so thankful for our time together!
I believe your book “The Eleventh Hour” was extremely helpful since it answered so many questions that no one ever talks about. (Well, come to think about it, so did your other books.)
Thirteen days later, on comfort care, we had our final minutes before Frank’s last breath and then the six hours following his death. This was the most sacred and blessed time we could have hoped for.
After frank’s last breath, we laid in bed together hugging, talking, sharing, crying and laughing for maybe two hours. Only then did I feel ready to ask the RN and MD to come into our room to fill out their paperwork.
With help from the RN and CNA, I was able to wash and cut Frank’s hair, address his nose and ears and trim his eyebrows then get him dressed in the street clothes he wanted. Afterwards, I crawled back in bed for more hugs, talks and goodbyes.
Molly and I continued to talk with Frank as we packed up our things after living in his hospital room 24/7 for 33 days. Then, at 3:30 PM, we walked with Frank, his face uncovered and holding his hand out to the funeral home SUV.
I am so glad your book said I could do all of that!!!
I really, really needed to spend that time ---doing for Frank as I have for the last four and a half years.
After Molly and I left Frank in the care of the funeral home personnel, we went to the small local restaurant for grilled ham and cheese, Frank’s favorite. We were able to share with each other our experience again.
Thank you so much! Not only for doing what you do for others, but also for taking the time to write your books. Thank you for sending “The Final Act of Living”. I read it again after Frank’s death and was even more thankful for all the gifts Frank gave me by allowing me to be a huge part of this special journey of his.
I gave that book to a nurse at the hospital since she was interested in it. It is my belief that your books should be part of the training for all of the hospital staff.
May God always bless you!