Slipping away.

The nurse called the chaplain’s phone. “My patient is actively dying. The family would like a visit.”

I went. I sat down next to the son. We talked.

The nurse was in and out.

The intensivist stopped by, confirming what the doctor had said on the phone a couple hours earlier. There wasn’t anything more to be done.

“He wants to go see Jesus,” the son said. “He’s been talking about it for a couple months.”

He said it to the intensivist. He said it to the nurse. He said it to me. He was saying it to himself.

After a bit, I said to the son, “Would you like me to pray?” He nodded. “Would he mind if I put my hand on his head?” He shook his head.

I put my hand on his forehead, half on, half off the edge of his hair.

I talked with God. About God’s love for him and his love for God. About asking for peace in this moment. About the family, present and away. And I asked God to welcome him.

I sat down. The nurse looked at us and said, “I think he’s gone.” He took out his stethoscope and listened. He went for another nurse to come and listen and provided the verification.

Apparently, as I asked God to welcome him, he’d been welcomed.

No gasping, no groaning, no expressions of pain.

In the deaths I’ve been around for the past few years, this is only the second that happened in the middle of talking with God. I’m grateful for that. But I’m also grateful to have been present this time.



And yes, “This Is Hard.”: What I Say When Loved Ones Die.