Death is nothing more than a doorway, something you walk through.
- Dr. George Ritchie
I was blessed to have a very good friend who was more than generous to the hospice program that I represented. As God planned it, I was with a friend of his as he died. Not knowing they knew each other, I was surprised to hear from him the next day, asking about the death of his friend, which is always privileged information. But as it was the patient’s wife who told him about my being there, I felt free to speak with him.
This was God’s way of paving the road ahead for our hospice program and an educational institute named in my friend’s honor, as he had supplied the funding to build it. He wanted to help in every way he could, so that everyone needing the kind of care his friend received would have it. Years before, when I barely knew him, he asked me to make him a promise. He anticipated dying of a similar stomach cancer as his dad and asked me to promise to be his nurse, to keep him at home and to be with him when he died. By God’s grace alone, that all came to pass.
After his death he made very complete and loving plans for his wife to remain in their home and cared for round the clock, since she suffered end-stage dementia. Their two sons made certain that his plans were carried out. His daughter, who was especially close to her mom, was intimately involved in her care every day. By this time her mom no longer recognized her as her daughter, which was a painful experience, but it did not change the intimacy of the care she provided.
One evening her mom had an episode that brought her to the hospital for evaluation. She was not seriously ill but the doctors thought it best to check her overnight. In the morning her daughter called to tell me that when she walked into her mom’s room in the morning she greeted her with, “There’s my girl now,” recognizing her for the first time in a very long while.
Something inside of me said this was very significant and I hurried to the hospital to see her. We spoke of her mother’s greeting to her earlier in the day and that she appeared to be unusually peaceful and contented, as if she knew something the rest of us didn’t. They spent the day and evening together and she died during the wee hours of the morning with her girl by her side. Our God is in the middle of every single moment of our lives. We need to pay close attention so as not to miss his presence and whisperings.