2012-05-17 / Church


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)


Bonnie was in the hospital and had just suffered a series of debilitating strokes. She was breathing heavily, eyes closed, unresponsive. She had only one living relative, a sister, who was in West Virginia.

I stood there gazing into her face, wondering what her life had been like. Where was she born? What kind of family did she grow up in? What brought her to Texas? Had she been married? Did she have children? If so, what happened to them?

The room was still and dark. The only sounds were Bonnie’s breathing and the hum of her oxygen. It felt very, very lonely.

Because hearing is the last sense to go, I began talking to Bonnie. I read Scripture. I prayed for and sang to her (poor woman!).

As I left, I had the strangest feeling Bonnie was waiting for something.

Three days later, Bonnie’s sister arrived, having ridden the bus for more than two days. She walked in and sat down by the bed. After a few moments, she began to cry, rocking back and forth in her chair. Then she stopped, took a deep breath, and started to hum. It was an old Gospel melody. I slowly backed out of the room. It was a special, private moment.

Bonnie passed several hours later.

She’d been waiting for her sister.

Things come and go. Accomplishments are fleeting. Dreams fade. People last forever.

It’s time we let people know how much they mean to us.

Thanks, Bonnie.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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