She wasn’t a relative, and I had only really met her while she was conscious once, and it was for my internship. It was on a hospital visit.
Well, on my last visit she died. She just died, right there in front of me. Myself, her only son, and a couple nurses were the only ones in the room. And I was supposed to be the son’s “spiritual guidance” in those moments. He was a 50 year old man, his mother and last surviving parent had just died, and all he had was me.
It was the second time I’ve seen the moment when someone’s life left their body. The first was my dad.
If this really happens, and I become a pastor, and I go on more hospital visits, that will no doubt lead to me being present for at least a couple more deaths….each and every time I will really be reliving my dad’s.
Which is both a peaceful and depressing thought. Depressing for obvious reasons, but peaceful because…well…to paraphrase John Green: When someone dies everyone’s first complaint is that it’s not fair. That life’s not fair. When in reality, death is the only fair thing about life. Because it happens to everyone. I know it’s a cliche, but I felt connected to my dad in the way all living things past and present are connected. Her last breath mixed into the very same atmosphere that my dad’s last breath mixed into.
Between the time my dad got sick and the time he died, I was afraid of hospitals and funeral homes, I think because they reminded me of what was going to happen. My daddy was going to die.
But now that he’s gone I’ve found that those fears have largely left as well. Because one of my biggest fears became a reality (as it was guaranteed to) my reality became less filled with fear. The other Sunday I was in a nursing home room with the body of a deceased woman, and while her son was in the restroom I touched her hand. Partly out of a sign of respect to her, partly in prayer, and partly because I never had the strength to touch my dad’s body after he died. But I touched her hand and I didn’t fall apart. The world didn’t crumble.
When you think about it, it’s kind of strange how some people’s lives end, while another person’s life just keeps going.
I’m not afraid of hospitals anymore.