The other day, I met a woman I've known for years, from the time she found out she had breast cancer through to its total remission. There were some signs that the cancer might be back. She was waiting for test results, nervous. "God, may all her results be negative" I prayed with her, even as my mind filled up with all sorts of scenarios. Yesterday, she stopped by my office with great news: "No relapse." We just stood there for a long, long time, grinning like monkeys and shaking hands.
For the past six months I've enjoyed getting to know a patient in the palliative care unit, an elder brother in Christ. A Protestant, he loves Mass, and often took part in our Sunday worship, hospital bed and all. He was quietly called to be with the Lord this morning. When I went to say goodbye, the realization that I would no longer regularly be seeing him or his family made me suddenly sad. I went back in the afternoon for the send-off. And, just as if the patient were still alive, the family and nurses and doctors and I all gathered around his bed, laughing and smiling as we took one last photograph. No, not "just as if"--he IS still alive. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” (Revelation 14:13)