While looking through some papers of things I had written in the past, I discovered a piece of notebook paper dated 6/25/2019. On it was the description of a dream. The page underneath it was a dream I recorded on 6/28/2019. It read, “I had a dream. Oscar was whole, and we were happy.” I burst into tears. I remember this dream vividly. I thought it was a message of hope that although my husband appeared to be debilitating, he would somehow miraculously recover. Six months and two days after recording this dream, my husband died in a hospital ICU on a ventilator. He had contracted pneumonia again and, with his other health conditions, would not recover. A part of me believes it was COVID-19 related even though COVID-19 was not yet an identified diagnosis. At any rate, my husband left me that day. I am grateful that the night before coming to the hospital, our last words to each other were, “I love you,” the last words I would ever hear him say.
I held out every hope that by some miracle, my husband would fully recover from every ailment and raise from his sickbed whole and complete, a testimony to the power of our God. Alas, that was not our reality. On December 26, 2019, I said goodbye to my husband and partner of twenty-six years. He had fought long and hard, and the toil was evident. I believe in Jesus, who raised people from the dead, yet my husband died. I also believe in a Christ who welcomes those who wish to return to their true home of origin after completing their earthly assignment.
Oscar lived a vibrant life. One of the doctors who treated him in the ICU during his final days explained that although his chronological age was sixty-seven, his body showed the age of someone over age one-hundred. All of that was not the result of sickness and disease. It resulted from a man determined to accomplish all he was sent to earth to do and believed that he only had a short time to do it. I am amazed how he extracted one hundred years worth of life out of sixty-seven. I imagine he was tired.
As I reflect on some of our conversations regarding the goals and desires my husband wanted for his life, I can honestly attest that he saw them come to pass. He wanted to join the army and be a hero. He joined the military and received a commendation for service and an honorable discharge. He wanted to be what he described as a “good man” and be a husband and father. He accomplished that twice, even raising children that were not biologically his. Being a believer in God and serving Jesus was not something Oscar bragged about but demonstrated in his willingness to help others and his refusal to turn a blind eye to injustice. When his mother refused to allow him to march with other students in downtown Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement, he worked to register people to vote. In a former coal mining community where many people were renovating the houses they rented from the coal company, Oscar built his own home from the ground. He endeavored to seek higher education and graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education. With this degree, he served the students of several Birmingham City Schools as an art teacher. Full of life and faith, Oscar made others laugh, see life for the joy that it could be, and counseled many to stay the course. He often recounted how he believed God had called him to preach, but he did not want to do that. Never donning a pulpit, Oscar delivered a message of faith in God through his love for people and his desire to see everyone do well. I imagine that in his final days as he lay in that hospital bed, Oscar recounted the events of his life and was satisfied with what he had accomplished. And with that and God’s inviting approval, he left.
Now Oscar is whole and happy. His life on earth was complete, and he took up a great deal of space in mine. I miss him dearly. When I think of him, I remember how he loved life and lived it to the full, true to his authenticity; his only competition was himself. Each stage of his life saw him evolve into a glorious human being. He elevated others, and God promoted him. Today and for all eternity, Oscar is whole and happy. Although we are not together today and for all eternity, I am complete and determined to be happy.