I held my five year old daughter’s little hand and together we cried as we watched the helicopter rise steadily into the sky. My wife Edith had died moments before the Care Flight crew had arrived to transport her to a scheduled medical appointment in the city an hours flying time away. She was so ill that traveling a long distance in a car was now too much for her as we lived in a remote town in the outback. Hence the helicopter.
Soon the helicopter was out of sight and Ruby and I were left together, alone.
My mind was racing, and I knew it would not be long before it would begin to shut down from the grief. As I stood there I found myself thinking about the events of last night. At about five o’clock in the afternoon the severity of Edith’s illness was too much for me and I sat on the verandah and had a few drinks to drown my sorrows. I knew it would not really help anything, but at least with a few drinks in me I thought I could cope a bit better. When I went inside I took one look at Ruby and could not bear to tell her that her mother was about to die so I packed her off to bed early. She didn’t understand but she did as she was told.
I had gone in to see Edith and she was too sick to be cross with me. I asked her if she would like me to say a little prayer with her. “Yes, please darling’, she said. So we prayed to whoever was listening because we really didn’t know who it was, or what it was out there that seemed to have this all sorted. We thought it was something greater than ourselves, so we trusted in that and prayed.
Then we saw Ruby standing in the doorway. She had been listening to us and asked if she could get into bed with her mother. Edith smiled at her and said, “Yes, darling, hop up on here and give me a cuddle’. And we were together like that as a little family for half and hour or so until Ruby toddled back off to bed again.
That was last night, but now as we watched the helicopter rise up into the sky, Ruby finally spoke to me and said, ‘Dad I think there must be helicopters in heaven, because they just took Mum there in one’.
And I cried ever harder.