Lay Down With Me
Salisbury Post- July 25, 2021
This is a difficult column to write. Not easy, but applicable to our lives, for sure. Grab a tissue and hang with me. (Yes, I know the title is grammatically incorrect, but it will be OK.)
Several years ago, my brother went through two weeks of suffering as he was in the valley of the shadow of death and then went on to be with the Lord.
The prognosis was given within hours of taking him to the emergency room, as the doctor returned to us and said, “It’s not good news, Mr. Miles.”
My younger brother looked right to me — and needed for me to step into action. I did the best I could. I worked non-stop making sure everything — and I mean everything — was taken care of. I was going to be there for him during this difficult time. He would not — and I mean would not — feel alone as he faced his final weeks on Earth.
The days began to pass. His words became fewer — sometimes there were none — his eyes would follow me around the room as I helped him in every way that came to mind, like conferring with doctors and hospital staff or holding his cup and straw for him as he seemed so grateful to be able to have a sip of water. I made sure his physical environment was just right — blinds adjusted, tray area neat, lights on or off, and door open or shut. Anything that I thought would help.
On one of his final days, as I straightened the sheets and fluffed the pillow on his bed, I heard him whisper — almost inaudible at first and very labored — but I leaned in close and figured it out one word at a time. Lay…down…with…me.
Tears filled my eyes. I quickly released the side rail on the bed that had separated us, and climbed in beside him. He edged slightly closer to me, and I felt his body relax as I held one of his hands and wrapped my other arm across his chest. It seemed that time left me at that point — not sure how long we stayed in that position — but I wish I had stayed even longer.
Reality crashed down. I had been doing important things for him — very important things — but in that moment, “Lay down with me,” took precedence over every single fiber of my existence. I became not just a helper or an advocate for his needs, but I was a participant in what he was experiencing, creating one of my most powerful and priceless memories ever.
Lay down with me. The incorrect grammar? Yes, the correct version would be to say, “Lie down with me.” But a meaning of “lay down” is “to put something down.” So, what may have been imperfect grammar on that day ended up being a perfect message from God:
We sometimes need to “lay down” some things — put some things down, even though they may be important and need to be done. Because most of the time, they are not more important than the “with-me’s” in our lives.
Why share this story now? A few days ago, my grandsons were once again ready to play Monopoly. Their conversation: The 10-year-old: “Maybe Mama GG could play.” The 13-year-old: “No, she always has other things to do.”
My thoughts as I heard them from the kitchen: Is that how they think of me? I always have other “things” to do? Really? Don’t they realize how busy I am? These “things” must be done!
Then, a still small voice — from God and my brother in heaven — reminded my heart, “Lay. Down. With. Me.” My “with me’s” needed me, so I decided to “lay down” the dish I was drying, and let the Monopoly game begin. (Yes, those games can last a long time, but someday I may wish it had lasted a little longer.)
How about you? It may not be a child that needs you. It may not be a sick friend or family member that needs you. It may be totally different circumstances than mine.
And…it may be Jesus, who just wants us to “lay down” the “things” that we are convinced must be done first — and instead — spend time with him.