I had the blessing of being with Dorothy, a hospice patient, and her family as she took her last breath in this world. It was a mix of a great loss, grief, and sadness and also a light of relief, joy, and hope. Unmistakably, though, there was a great sense that we were not alone, that one much greater than ourselves was present with us in that bedroom on that day. A few minutes later, the family, the nurse Sheila, and I gathered to pray. Our hearts were heavy but also in awe as we had just witnessed one of God’s children going home. It is difficult to know what to feel at that moment and to understand why things happen they way they do, why we get sick, why our bodies one day will fail us, and why one day all of us will make the same trip Dorothy did that day. One thing that was greatly impressed on me as we prayed, however, was that we were not alone.
I had visited with Dorothy and her husband Lewis only the week before. We sat gathered around Dorothy’s bed and talked. Dorothy and Lewis talked about the long and fruitful life that they had shared. Lewis talked about their days working with horses and the fun they had together. He glowed when he talked about his beautiful bride who was lying in bed in the final stages of cancer. Though these two were in their early nineties, their love for one another seemed as fresh and intimate as ever. Lewis spoke for sometime about their life together and how much he loved every minute of it. When I asked Dorothy what she was thinking, she remarked with a smile that she just loved to hear her husband talk.
As Chaplain for Saad Healthcare’s Hospice program, it is my privilege to sit with people everyday and walk with them in their journey and hear stories just like this. I say privilege because that is precisely what it is. I am daily impressed by the love and tenderness that I see in our patients and families. And I am reminded of the reality of a loving God who is present and with these families in their time of need.