The Waiting Place

>> Thursday, September 22, 2011

I worked as a Nurse’s Aide in a nursing home. My shock and dismay over the treatment of the patients who resided there had been almost overwhelming. What mattered to them was the money. It seemed no one saw those people as human beings.

In the twelve months I had been employed there, Anna had never had a visitor. When I had a break, I would sit by her bed and hold her hand. Paralyzed by a stroke, her eyes were the only part of her body that contained a spark of life. Now she was slowly dying.

My shift was over and I headed for the door to leave … but I overheard the conversation about Anna at the nurse’s station. Plans were already being made for the new patient who would occupy that room. The new patient’s family had been called. It was only a matter of time.

Immediately I made a U-turn, catching the attention of the nursing supervisor.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To be with Anna,” was my simple reply.

“Oh, that’s not part of your job. You can go on home,” she said brusquely.

“I don’t want her to die alone,” I said softly. “I will sit with her.”

“Just make sure you clock out first. We won’t pay you for staying,” was her terse answer.

Anna heard me enter. Her eyes locked with mine. She knew. I sat down and took her lifeless hand in mine. I leaned close to her face and said, “Anna, I know you can hear me. I just want you to know I will be here with you.”

Tears leaked out of her eyes and ran toward her ears. I wiped them away.

“Anna, do you know Jesus? Blink twice if the answer is yes.”
Instantly she closed her eyes and opened them twice.

“Then soon you will be free of this body and be running and jumping down the streets of gold. Are you ready for that?”

Two blinks … and more tears down the cheeks. Once again I gently wiped them away. I had never done this before. A part of me wanted to leave the room and forget it was happening.

But I could not leave her alone.

I sang softly … and prayed and kept my eyes locked on hers. When they closed, I felt a catch in my breath. But the rise and fall of her chest told me … not yet.

It didn’t take long. She was ready. Anna gently slipped away. I sat there in silence.

I conjured up a mental image of Anna … whole again. I had been witness to a wonderful passing. Selfishly I hoped I would never end up like Anna … an active mind trapped in a lifeless body. I prayed I would remember this moment of Anna’s release.

Still holding her hand, my reverie was interrupted by the strident voice of the nursing supervisor. “Why didn’t you tell us she died? We need to get this room stripped and disinfected. The new patient is arriving at 8:00.” I was ushered from the room as the flurry of activity began.

I wondered what they planned to do with Anna’s body. But Anna no longer cared. She was free.

So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the people of God; for he who has once entered God's rest also has ceased from the weariness and pain of human labors … ” Hebrews 4:9-10 (AMP)


Joanne Sher September 22, 2011 at 6:11 AM  

Oh, Joy, such a beautiful and touching story. Thank you.

Joy Bach September 22, 2011 at 8:43 AM  

Thanks, Joanne. That was in the 1970's. I still remember her.

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