I have a circle of faces I know, people that I seldom see but care about. Between them, in the last month, they’ve lost an uncle, a brother-in-law, an ex-husband-ongoing-friend, a dad, sister-in-law, uncle, grandfather, friend, and several colleagues.
Most of those friends I can’t walk over to and hug. I can’t sit silently after saying “I’m sorry.”
In the meantime, I’ve watched death several times at work.
Sometimes I stand with a family circling a bed. They ask me for a prayer. I take a hand, or put my hand on a forehead, and I say something like this:
This is really hard, to be standing here right now.
You know this person better than I do. I’ve never met them until now. You’ve known them since forever.
I ask, Holy Spirit, that you will give her peace in these last minutes and hours, the peace that passes understanding. I ask that you will help her rest.
I ask that you will be comforter to this family, that you will be your name. I ask that you will give them courage and peace and an awareness of your presence, that they will know you are with them.
Thank you that even more than she loves you, you love her.
In your name we get to pray, Jesus.
Sometimes in the conversation with God, I acknowledge that what we’d all love is a miracle. We’d love to watch this person open their eyes and start talking. But most often when happens when the ventilator tube is removed, the breathing gets shallower and within minutes or hours stops.
No miracle, exactly, in the way that we wish.
But often the miracle for the rest of us of simply having the peace and courage and awareness of God’s presence that we asked for. In little bits, a breath at a time.
For each of you my friends, I’m sorry for your loss. I’m talking about you with God.