It was in her voice

By Br. Bob Malloy, OFM Cap.

I learned last week that “John,” one our guests of CSK was in the hospital and near death with the COVID-19 virus and underlying conditions.  He had put my name down as an emergency contact.  Had I not been listed for contact, I’d have never known.  When I returned the call from the social worker, I learned that John was not responding and was not expected to live after about four days in ICU.  His doctor then called me later in the day, and she revealed the grim reality and prognosis for him.  She explained that I could come with permission and see him—only through the glass window, but did not recommend my coming.  I stayed away.  On Friday I called the desk and asked a favor of the nursing staff—to have a phone held to John’s ear so I could speak to him/pray for him in case he could still hear.  In spite of the stress of the tired staff, they were most accommodating and did what I requested.  After speaking to him for a few minutes, I paused to let the nurse know I was finished.  He put the phone away.  It was my final “contact “with John.  The following morning as I was praying, a strong feeling came over me that he was on his way.  At 11:04 I received a call from his doctor to let me know that John died at 11:00.  Her voice revealed her emotion and fatigue as she delivered her words and answered some questions I had.  She said softly, “I’m sorry for your loss.”  Another patient slipped away quietly.  As I read about the stress that health care workers carry in their tasks these days, I appreciate so very much their dedication and the suffering that they go through in caring for those who are dying, often not knowing when they leave their shift if their patients will be there when they return.

And I wonder.  How many more of the folks who are our guests and who have no one will die alone without our knowing it.  May God receive them home, and bless all those who care.