Amazing Grace

After two years of battle with cancer, and knowing the inevitable was around the corner, Mark’s final demise came rather quickly.  He had been getting weaker and thinner all along, but it wasn’t until about two weeks prior to his passing that Suzanne and I had stopped by for a short visit and, while Mark seemed normal in every other way, I sensed he was in significant pain and discomfort.  A few days later upon a visit we noted a significant decline and some mental impairment.  Around this time his wife remarked that they had hoped and assumed he would make it through the Christmas holiday, but that they doubted he would last until Thanksgiving.

A few weeks ago Mark attended the funeral of another member of our church congregation, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t viewing it as a dry run for his own.  Shortly after that he communicated his desire that Amazing Grace be sung at his funeral, and even outlined the particulars for it.  Solo violin, a specific lady to sing first verse soprano, a men’s group to sing the 2nd and 3rd verses, all to sing a repeat of the first verse, and the soprano solo repeat the final line.

We thought it would be nice for Mark to hear the rendition himself, so we felt some urgency to put it together.  We scheduled Saturday, Nov. 4 to come by and do a “live” first rehearsal for him.  But he was having a bad morning, so we rescheduled for Sunday the 5th.  We didn’t have the violin, but all the singers were there for two run throughs at his bedside.

Mark was awake and aware, if not talkative.  He seemed in reasonable comfort and peace.  He even smiled at me a time or two, his eyes showing love and recognition.  I held his hand tenderly in both of mine for a couple of minutes, giving him reassurance and teasing him about his stylish unshaven face.  I thought this might be my final goodbye, which it was.

On Wednesday, the 8th, Mark passed away, with his wife and family around his bedside.  I received a text message while at work from his wife.  I shed a few tears, and just hoped nobody would approach me at my desk and wonder.

Here is a recording of our group singing Amazing Grace at the funeral:

Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see.
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
Amazing grace!  How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see.
Was blind but now I see.

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