In my first film series, "Focus on the Family," I shared a story about a 5-year-old African-American boy who will never be forgotten by those who knew him. A nurse with whom I worked, Gracie Schaeffler, took care of this lad during the latter days of his life. He was dying of lung cancer, which is a terrifying disease in its final stages. The lungs fill with fluid, and the patient is unable to breathe. It is terribly claustrophobic, especially for a small child.
This little boy had a Christian mother who loved him and stayed by his side through the long ordeal. She cradled him on her lap and talked softly about the Lord. Instinctively, the woman was preparing her son for the final hours to come. Gracie told me that she entered his room one day as death approached, and she heard this lad talking about hearing bells.
"The bells are ringing, Mommie," he said. "I can hear them."
Gracie thought he was hallucinating because he was already slipping away. She left and returned a few minutes later and again heard him talking about hearing bells ringing. The nurse said to his mother, &ls;I'm sure you know your baby is hearing things that aren't there. He is hallucinating because of the sickness."
The mother pulled her son closer to her chest, smiled and said, "No, Miss Schaeffler. He is not hallucinating. I told him when he was frightened&md;when he couldn't breathe&md;if he would listen carefully, he could hear the bells of heaven ringing for him. That is what he's been talking about all day.
That precious child died on his mother's lap later that evening, and he was still talking about the bells of heaven when the angels came to take him. What a brave little trooper he was!