Maybe she’s not home.
“Hello, may I speak with Mrs. A?”
“Who is this?”
“This is Soapie, a nurse at the clinic…”
“Oh,” he paused. “She died, a few days ago.”
Hearing those words, I gave my condolences, then put down the receiver. It felt like someone had just punched me in the chest, leaving me breathless. My legs wanted to collapse underneath. My heart sank, toward my feet.
How could this happen? She wasn’t that sick. The last time I saw her, her skin was a healthy pink hue and her breathing was normal. She wasn’t debilitated. She was independent and could do most things for herself. She had no gradual decline of her condition. She sat patiently, quietly, and if she waited long, she never complained. She was always pleasant, carried a positive attitude, and wore a smile. Everyone adored her.
Suddenly, she was gone.
~ ~ ~
In the hospital setting, I have cared for many patients in their dying stages. Pressed my hands deep into the chest to resuscitate a non pulsating heart. Suctioned thick secretions. Titrated pain medication. Turned, lifted, and cleaned to prevent bedsores. Swabbed the inside of dry mouths, then smoothed lip balm onto cracked lips. I comforted both patients and their grieving families all the way to the end. But in those times, I met them in a time of crisis, in a time of impending loss. Death was not unanticipated.
However, in the clinic, it’s different. Patients waltz in on their strong legs, boast their funny stories, and shine their quirky personalities. What starts with one visit, grows into two, then into many, over the course of several years. We see each other on the bus, at the grocery store, or randomly, on the sidewalk. Our patients become our friends, neighbors, family.
So when death approaches unexpectedly, it’s startling. Humbling. Time and time again, I am reminded that life is fleeting.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…”
~ ~ ~
The day before yesterday, we had our first snowfall. The snow clung to the ground, impeding any possible growth of grass or leaves. In winter’s grasp, everything was dead. Frozen. Cold.
As I trudge through the seasons of life, may I rest in God’s sovereignty. May I look to Him for strength to carry me through the dead of winters, the grayest of fogs, the unforeseen future.
“What happens when snow melts?
It becomes spring.”