The call came pretty late last night, about 10:45. I was driving, and felt my phone buzz in my pocked, but didn’t listen to the message until after I got home. “She said she thinks he’s dying.” I only live about a mile away and I didn’t want them to be alone, so I headed over to the apartment.
When I arrived, it was and it wasn’t what I expected. I’ve been with many people in hospice care for the last days and hours of their lives. I’m familiar with the shallow, irregular, rattling breathing. I just didn’t think it would happen this soon. Just hours earlier, he had been awake, conversant, signing his own documents and deciding to come home from the hospital. Hospice hadn’t even been to the house yet, and it looked like he’d be gone before they even arrived. He wasn’t conscious, but he also didn’t seem uncomfortable, which was a blessing.
A few more people arrived. All we could do was wait. Wait for a call back from hospice. Wait and wonder whether it was a wise choice to come home. Wait and pray, commending him to the Lord’s care.
With her encouragement, we left about 12:30 pm. She knew who to call if anything got out of hand. When I called back this morning, I learned he had died about an hour after we all left. Her words to me on the phone were, “I know he’s with the Lord. I just hope God accepts him.”
Without hesitation, I replied, “I have no doubt! He had faith in Christ. We just talked about that the other day when I brought him communion, He was forgiven. You don’t have to worry about that at all.”
“Thank you so much. That’s just what I needed to hear.”
If you know me at all, you know I talk about that all the time. Maybe when you’re sitting there on a Sunday and life is pretty good and you don’t have too many worries, it doesn’t register. But when the breathing stops, you feel all alone, and reality kicks in, it suddenly becomes an issue. So, you need to hear it again. If I can, I’ll be there to make sure you do.
Lately it seems like I’ve been spending a lot of time with people who get hit with stuff over and over again. What do you do for someone when the cancer keeps coming back? Or the headaches? Or the strokes? Or the flooding? I’m humbled knowing I don’t have a whole lot of answers. But I get to bring Christ, and he gives more than we ask or imagine.