Friday, June 10, 2005

The moment she died

My great aunt Alice was a pretty healthy 87 years old. Then I got the call. She had a brain aneurysm and went into a coma. When I went to visit her, she wasn’t well. Her breathing was labored and we knew it was close to the end. Her brother, sister and a couple of cousins of mine were there. The hospital told us that there was nothing that we could do and they suggested hospice.

In hospice the nurse told us that we should still talk to her. My great uncle couldn’t believe it, but he tried. He told her he loved her and that he would miss her. Still, she was hanging on. Why? We asked. The hospice nurse said sometimes the patient is waiting for someone. Who could she be waiting on? We were all there. My one cousin determined it was his dog P.J. and he decided to go get the dog. I didn’t think that was it – I’m sure my great Aunt would be appalled at the thought of a dog in the hospital.

I was holding her hand and talking to my cousin while we watched her slowly breath in and out. Then we heard a voice. A woman came in the room and said in a soft voice, “Hi. I’m Norma. I’m Alice’s minister.” She then walked over to the bed to check on her. It was at that very moment that my great aunt stopped breathing. The minister said, “I think she is gone” and started praying for her. The rest of us all looked around at each other, for we realized that since none of us are religious, we had forgotten to call the minister. That’s whom she was waiting for.

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