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| Category: || Biographical Non-Fiction |
Posted:|| September 11, 2021 Views: 115|
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
This was one of my more memorable patients as a Chaplain.
by Dr. Nad
We will call her "Mary". The afternoon we met, I climbed the front stairs of her modest mobile home, stood on her deck, and rang the doorbell. A chorus of canines heralded me. Since the door was closed, I couldn't tell if I thrilled them with the prospects of meeting a new friend or they were under the illusion that lunch was at the door. I waited for what seemed like an interminable amount of time for the door to crack open and reveal a short, thin, gray-haired little lady who looked much older than the face sheet in my hand said she was.
Immediately, I knew this little lady was inebriated, and the dogs were going to protect her. Although our meeting was very short that afternoon, I would learn at our subsequent visit that for the past forty years, most days would find Mary in this same condition.
The next time I went to see Mary, one of her three daughters met me at the door and escorted me to a seat in the living room, where the three of us got acquainted. We will call the daughter Liz. We talked about Hospice and what my role was as Mary's Chaplain. Liz informed me that Mary had been angry at God for forty years because of the murder of Mary's 14-year-old son. Liz stated mom was just becoming open to the concept of God and that was why she was allowing me to enter her home. After more talk, the ladies allowed me to sing a few old gospel songs, share the 23rd Psalm, and pray. It was a delightful visit.
There were several scheduled visits to follow. I established rapport with a woman who had hated God and could not relate to society and its established norms. Mary's pain had been the impetus that propelled a pulling away from her family, friends, and the challenging responsibility of experiencing an amalgamation of both life joys and sorrows. We began the arduous task of unwrapping first one, then another of the security blankets she had shrouded herself in for decades.
We uncovered three converging streams of consciousness that were inviting her to reassess her approach to the rest of her life. Number one, Mary knew she was at the end of her life. Number two, she believed in God, although she was ambivalent concerning her feelings about Him considering the pain and suffering in the world. She also feared God would force her to stand and be judged by Him one day. She expressed to me that she was not ready for that. Number three, Mary wanted to reconnect with her children and other family members she had emotionally abandoned.
A couple of months went by with multiple visits and minimal progress.
There was an inner struggle going on, over when she was going to do what she told me she wanted to do. We all knew the sands of the hourglass in her life were slipping rapidly down the tube. Yet ... she wanted to hold off on the arduous task of soul work for the next visit, then the next.
One day, in the late afternoon, Mary kept coming up in my spirit. I follow my planned schedule closely, and I didn't have her on it, nor did I have her phone number to make the obligatory pre-visit phone call. I couldn't shake the press of the Holy Spirit to make an unprecedented visit.
When I arrived, I considered leaving because visitors had filled the yard with cars. The press of the spirit said, "Push on." Liz met me at the door and said, "I am so glad you came, we almost lost mom this morning and she is unresponsive now, please come in." (She didn't tell me our nurse had been called and was on her way there, [after regular hours], to pronounce Mary dead.
Liz led me back to her mother's room where there were many talking family members standing around her bed. I wanted to ask everybody to leave, but I didn't think I should do that. Just then, someone said, "Let's leave mom with the Chaplain."
They all filed out, and I addressed her lifeless form and said, "Mary, do you know who this is?" There was an immediate change in her demeanor and she responded, "Yes."
I talked to Mary about her being sick, then I reminded her we had agreed on our last visit that, on my next visit, we were going to talk about her relationship with God. I said, "Mary, wouldn't this be a good time to ask Jesus Christ into your life?"
She quietly responded, "Not now".
I shared with her how important the decision was and that our time is limited on this earth. I again asked her if she would like to pray and receive Christ, and she responded, "Not today".
I knew Mary's long struggle with a lack of peace, and I asked her if she wanted to have God's peace. She said, "I do."
I stated that the way to receive God's peace was through asking Jesus to come into our hearts, then I invited her one more time. Again, she said, "Not now."
I asked her if she remembered the song by Kris Kristofferson entitled, "One day at a time".
She said, "I do"
I said, "Remember in that chorus it says 'yesterday's gone,'" and I asked her, "Are your yesterdays gone?" She said, "They are."
I reminded her that the song also said. "Tomorrow may never be mine." I said, "Mary, wouldn't you want to ask Jesus into your heart and receive his peace tonight?" Again, she said, "Not now".
Throughout my interaction with Mary, I sensed the Holy Spirit urging me to invite her to life in Christ, but I knew I was going far beyond my bounds of professionalism. I also knew I could not make Mary say yes. At this point, I said, "Mary. . . there's a battle raging on the inside of you. There are two forces fighting for your soul. You are going to make the ultimate decision. Are you aware of this fight that's going on for you?" It relieved me when Mary nodded her head yes.
I said, "Mary, this is the last time I'm going to ask you, but wouldn't you like to pray to receive Jesus as your Savior tonight?" To my sad amazement, one more time, Mary said, "Not tonight."
I said, "Mary let me pray with you." She said, "Okay".
As I prayed, I wept and reminded God, her soul was in the balance, Jesus had paid the ultimate price, and peace and forgiveness were hers for the asking. In my prayer, I said, "Lord, if Mary were to pray to receive you, it would sound something like this," and I prayed the sinner's prayer.
When I finished, I looked up at her and asked, "Mary, did you pray that prayer with me?" A little smile crept across her face and she nodded her head and said, "Yes."
I was flooded with profound joy. I told her it was the greatest decision she'd ever made. I also stated, there were some people in the next room that would be really excited to hear that news. I asked if she would tell them what she had done. When she said she would, I left the room.
All eyes were on me as I stepped out of the bedroom into the living room. The family looked at me as if to say, "She's gone, isn't she?"
I said, "She's talking, and she has something she wants to tell you." They all rushed into her room while I stayed in the living room. About 5 minutes later, one of her daughters came out, and she had a big smile on her face.
I asked the daughter what mom had said. She informed me that mom had said, "I did the God thing." The daughter then asked me, "Is God going to punish mother?"
I said, "Why no, she just received Christ into her life." She quickly responded, "You don't know all the things that mother has done." I said, "No I don't, but God does, and he's forgiven her."
The daughter had such a big smile on her face. She shared with me some of the pain they had gone through as a family, including the fact that her 14-year-old brother (and Mary's son) had been kidnapped at random, by total strangers, taken into the woods, and chained to a tree where he was beaten mercilessly, tortured, and raped for days.
Then he was murdered.
In court, the family learned how the kidnappers came back for days and desecrated his corpse. When asked why they killed him, after all the torture, the 21-year-old captor stated: "I couldn't stand to hear him calling out for his 'Mommy' to come to help him."
Following this horrendous ordeal, Mary found herself physically and psychologically unstable. They admitted her to a psychiatric hospital, where she spent therapeutic time. When Mary returned home, she continued a life of pain, self-medicating with alcohol and simultaneously neglecting her three daughters.
The daughter stated to me that for the past 40 years, all the family had tried to make mom happy and nothing would work. The daughter stated, "Mom has hated God, and she mistrusts people."
About that time, Mary stepped out of the room, walking on her own power, with a smile on her face and a parade of shocked-looking family members following close behind. Her daughter grabbed my hand and beamed from ear-to-ear, as she stated: "That's the first time I've seen my mother with a smile in 40 years."
I prayed with the entire family and I left. As I was walking down the steps, our Hospice nurse drove onto the property. She couldn't believe it when I told her that Mary was sitting in a chair in the living room. Her supervisor had informed her she was coming to the patient's home to make a death pronouncement.
Approximately a week went by when my office informed me that Mary was in the hospital not doing well. I wanted to see her one more time, and I had high hopes that she would be responsive. When I walked into the hospital room, I knew immediately that it was a grave situation.
I made my way to her bedside and spoke to Mary, but she was unresponsive. I kept calling her name softly, and finally, she seemed to rouse. I repeated several more times, "Mary, this is your Chaplain, do you remember me?"
Then suddenly, as if, miraculously, her eyes focused, and a smile crept across her face.
I craved so much to have one more conversation with her, considering her newfound peace with the God she had hated for forty years.
I wanted to hear of the reconnection with her family in those few days.
I longed to glimpse that hopefulness I knew had resurrected in her life.
I just yearned, for my satisfaction, as well as hers and the families, for a sign.
A sign, that what was so miraculous the week before was not just a mirage for those of us who had been privileged to witness the transformation.
It was time for me to pray with her. After praying, I asked my most pressing question.
"Mary, do you still have God's peace?"
Without saying a word, she displayed an incredible smile that spoke volumes, and then Mary rendered an exaggerated nod.
We locked our eyes in a blissful gaze as I backed out of the room.
Three days later, St. Mary was standing in the throne room of the Prince of Peace, gazing into the eyes of her Savior.
Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry
Chaplains have unique protocols and this patient asked me to assist her to get to a Christian outcome. In our discussion, the patient informed the Chaplain of her faith tradition and her desire to achieve a traditional Christian experience of salvation.
The "Face sheet" is the medical term used to describe a patient's statistical information.
A big Thank You is in order for the picture entitled: "Spiritual Renewal" by VMarguarite on FanArtReview.com
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