Not just at the end.

I went to the hospital room to visit.

It was a relaxed visit on a calmer day than usual. Less frantic, less catastrophic. And in this room, the mood was less catastrophic. The patient was ready to leave.

He knew that the diagnosis was the drug itself. Change the medication and things will be fine. And so we were talking about life and death with a little less urgency than I often hear.

He was sitting on the built-in sofa next to his wife.

“It’s not my time,” he said, looking at me, the chaplain. “But when I know my time is getting near, I’ll have some long conversations with God.”

I smiled.

“You know,” I said, “If you said that about her, she’d be pretty upset.”

He looked up.

“She’d love to have a relationship with you all along, not just at the end.”

-She smiled and looked at him.

They weren’t newlyweds. Forty years or so of knowing each other. Nearly thirty years married. We’d talked enough to know that they had been through some difficult times and that they loved each other. The kind of love that expressed in an affectionate picking on each other, debating small points with each other, ignoring the smart-aleck comments and encouraging each other in the middle of worry.

The kind of interaction that has grown from daily interaction about deep and irrelevant stuff. The kind of interaction that doesn’t happen in lives lived at a respectful distance from each other.

The kind of relationship that becomes the whole life, not the kind of relationship resurrected at the last minute.

I think he understood.


We’re starting a new month tomorrow. Most of the posts in September are going to be exploring taking with God. Many will be from the archives, some are from friends. Just wanted to let you know.

And, if you missed my post about Esau McCaulley, please take a look.