Monday, August 27, 2012

Don't Wait

If there was anything I needed to say to her, this was the time, and it would be my last opportunity.  

The final story in the forthcoming pro-life book God Moments III:  True Love Leads To Life.  

Sisters Belinda and Michele

It was almost Christmas 2011, and my sister Belinda was near death. Recently, she had been released from an unexpectedly long stay at the hospital.  She was admitted because her white blood cell counts were low, and had already been informed that cancer had spread throughout her body, and she was dying.  One medical condition after another presented itself.  At one point she went into renal failure, and we were all informed her condition was hopeless and she had at most several more days left to live. However, it is God alone and not man who has the right to decide who lives and who dies, and when.  Six weeks later, after various treatments for the conditions that presented themselves one after another, she was finally discharged from the  hospital. 

It was a triumphant day of sorts when our mother and I accompanied her home on this last leg of her journey.  Before I headed home, the three of us sat in the living room and chatted about the events of the last several weeks.

Two things stand out in my mind about that conversation.  

Belinda had spent years compiling our family genealogy and thanks to the computer age, she was able to maintain contact via e-mail and skype with our beloved relatives around the world. I asked her about her experience in the hospital, when she was on the brink of death.  She said she didn’t feel like she was dying, perhaps because as she said, “Nobody came for me.”  She shook her head.  All those relatives that had preceded us in death and whose personal stories she knew so well, and  “Nobody came for me.” 

They knew it wasn’t her designated time yet. 

She also said that material things, which never had any great importance to her unless used to help other people, were now of no concern to her at all.  We spoke briefly about what is of true, and eternal value, a subject we had discussed so many times before.   

Belinda’s health deteriorated rapidly after that day. 

Belinda kept pictures of us, on one of our last trips together, by her bedside

The day before she died, I went to Holy Mass and then brought her Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  At that point she was no longer able to see or speak, but when the Host was placed on her tongue she clearly knew He was there with her and wanted to receive Him. She seemed to savor His Real Presence there on her tongue.

That day, my mother and brother and I were there with Belinda, and I remained with her when  my mother and brother left to run some errands.     

A kind woman from hospice had recently made a very helpful recommendation.  It broke Belinda’s heart to be leaving us, and our family had spoken of the moment that was coming when we would most likely need to give Belinda our permission to go to God.  What I had not thought of was how important it was to Belinda to know that our mother would be all right.    

And so I was left that day with Belinda all to myself as she lay in her bed dying, and realized that the opportunity I knew was coming had arrived.  If there was anything I needed to say to her, this was the time, and it would be my last opportunity.  

To be concluded... 

The conclusion of the story: