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2012-10-04 digital edition

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2012-10-04 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

Just Don’t Abandon Me

Steven was a bachelor in his early fifties. He’d worked as an auto mechanic since he was seventeen. He was a whiz at fixing things. He had no siblings and his parents were killed in an accident when he was twenty-one. Every day he worked his ten hours at the garage, then spent his evenings watching old movies and drinking himself to sleep.

Now he was in a nursing home with stage-four lung cancer.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” he said. “I believe in God, but I’ve kept Him at a distance. I’m scared.”

He began to shake. Tears ran down his cheeks. He looked up at me and pleaded, “Just don’t abandon me. I need you.”

I sat there stunned.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “We’ll be here. God is here. Do you believe that?”

He nodded his head. The tears continued to flow.

Two months later, I had my last conversation with Steven. He couldn’t talk or open his eyes. I leaned down by his pillow.

“Steven, can you hear me?” I asked. He nodded.

“ Jesus is here. Do you believe that?” Nod.

“Do you believe He loves you?” Nod.

“Do you see Him?” Smile. Nod.

“Are you ready to walk into His arms?” Smile. Nod.

“Then go. See you soon, brother.” Smile.

I asked one last question. “Steven, do you feel alone?” He beamed, and shook his head.

Aloneness is horrible. It numbs the soul and crushes the heart. It’s time we told it to take a hike. Let’s be there for someone today.

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

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