The Last Words

By Omar Miranda

Photo by Dreamstime

My grandfather died of prostate cancer when I had just begun my college career. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I flew from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and met up with my younger brother in Atlanta, Georgia. From there we flew nonstop to Puerto Rico.
 
Once we landed we went directly to the hospital where he was. I remember seeing a shadow of a man in a hospital bed — he didn’t look like himself at all. He was extremely thin, weak, and white as a ghost. He was propped up in bed with pillows all around him. There were a lot of people in his room and in the hallway. Just outside his room people, like vultures, aimlessly hung around waiting . . . it wouldn’t be long now.
 
I remember being in the room with a lot of my relatives, my cousins, and my brothers. I was waiting my turn to see him and talk to him briefly. I remember touching the skin of his left hand . . . it was like the skin of an onion: thin, brittle, and fragile. His breathing was shallow, and his eyes were open, but he acted as though he couldn’t see me and as if he were in another world.
 
I leaned over and kissed his forehead — it was cold and clammy. I kissed his cheek, identified myself, and told him how much I loved him and that I didn’t want him to go away. His breathing was shallow and irregular, and there was a weird rattle in his chest. I remember him smiling at me and slowly, softly, breathlessly speaking to me in a barely discernible whisper — for that’s all the strength he had.

He called me “Macito” — that was his nickname for me. He told me not to be sad or cry, because I would once again be able to see him in heaven. He told me that God had something incredible in store for my life and that he loved me very much. Then as quick as that it was somebody else’s turn.
 
That was the last time I saw him alive. Shortly after that visit he died. Immediately after he died, my grandmother, mom, and aunts told me that the doctors didn’t understand how he continued to live as long as he did; but he had died shortly after speaking with me, my two brothers, and my three cousins who all lived in the States. He literally held on to life just long enough to do that.
 
It’s very likely that as you read this, you’re already thinking about someone whose life has been touched by cancer. But each one of us has been adversely affected by the cancer of sin. God tells us that “ . . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). Although our sin must be paid with our death, “ . . . God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, CEV).
 
If we have eternal life in God through Jesus, one day we’ll all get to be with those we love and miss so dearly. Most importantly, we’ll be able to spend eternity with God and He . . . “He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain” (Revelation 21:4, CEV, emphasis mine).
 
I can’t wait to hug my abuelito again and look Jesus in the eyes, fall at His feet and thank Him for His indescribable sacrifice that took away my grandfather’s cancer and all humanity’s cancer of sin.