The loving son couldn't stay with his dying Father last night. This time, he needed to tend to his Mother. I assured him that it was okay. I would check on his Dad frequently and make sure that he was comfortable. I promised to call if there was a change in his condition.
And so I found myself attending to this dear man. In the wee hours of the morning, the constant ringing of call bells waned as needy patients drifted off to sleep. Not so with this man, for he was in pain. I administered a dose of morphine and pulled up a chair. I held his wrinkled hand and stroked his grey hair. He told me of the severe pain he felt, and my stomach twinged in sympathy. "But I won't let that discourage me now," he said "for I am on the threshold of Glory".
He told me of a vile soldier with a temper and a lust for "the bottle". He talked of the moment his life had changed forever as the Divine broke through his drunken stupor. He talked of how he spent the rest of his life telling others about his God. And he probed the condition of my soul.
Outside, a thunderstorm raged. I drew up the blind and we watched together. Lightning cracked, thunder boomed, and the rain poured. He continued to preach, babbling at times in a drug induced haze, quoting scriptures by memory. Passionate. Definite. He held his abdomen and groaned, and I got up to give him another shot.
Finally he fell into a fitful sleep, still not free of the pain. I tried to imagine this gentle spirit as the man he described prior to his life changing experience. I found I could not.
When I was sure that he was sleeping, I quietly left the room. I could hear an infant crying. Mum was tired and needed to sleep. I swaddled the baby in a warm blanket and walked to the nursery. I pulled the old rocking chair over to the window and turned off the light. I rocked and cuddled the Baby. Satisfied, she closed her eyes and slept, her head on my chest. A brand new life, only hours old. Next door to a life well spent. Either end of the spectrum so close that I could feel the breath of life and the whisper of death rolled into one sensation.
Outside the storms raged. I watched, feeling a sense of calm instead of the usual nervousness as I cradled the infant. And I pondered life, and death, and my state of in-between-ness.
A few moments of this and then.... a call bell. I gently put the sleeping Baby in a crib as I went to attend to another patient, my spirit refreshed.