By Sister Pam Nosbusch, OSF
The more time I spend with my hospice patients the more I am convinced that there is something inside of us that tells us the end of our earthly life is approaching. One experience of this was with a patient I will call Sue.
I first met Sue on a Thursday afternoon when I went to meet her and do an initial spiritual assessment of her needs. Sue was a devout Catholic. I already knew Sue did not have much time left in this life. At the end of our conversation, I told Sue I will come to see her once a week. Sue responded, “One week from today is Thursday.” I explained that I do not have to come on the same day of the week, but Sue was insistent that I come on Thursday of the next week.
Then Sue asked if I was coming at 1 or 1:30 p.m., which was the time I was with her for our first visit. I thought this was an odd thing to ask, but told her I would come at 1:30. At this point Sue was satisfied with the date and time of our next time to be together. I did not know who I planned to see the following Thursday but told myself I will make this work because it is about the patient, in this case Sue, and the patient’s needs.
The following Thursday I arrived at Sue’s home at the time we agreed upon. When I entered her home, several family members and friends were with Sue’s husband who I will call Bill. I spoke with Bill and the others present. They told me Sue is not responding to them. I went to Sue’s bedside to assess the situation.
Sue was actively dying. With the family’s desire for Sue not to be alone, I went to her bedside while they discussed funeral plans. Trusting that God gets the important things through to someone who is not responding, I assured Sue I was with her, prayed with her, and held her hand. I stayed several hours at Sue’s home. When I left I knew it would not be long until Sue went to meet her God.
Sue died about three hours after I left her home.
I still ponder my initial visit with Sue and her insistence that I come back the following Thursday. She knew I would be needed the following Thursday to be with her, her family and her friends. She knew that no other day of the week would be the right day for me to be with her. She knew that the afternoon would be the right time for me to be with her.
She knew that she was going to meet her God on that Thursday. She knew all of this and made sure her family and friends were cared for that day. She knew and she helped me be mindful of God’s working in people’s lives as they prepare to leave this earthly life.