By Diane Thrush
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses . . . ” Heb 12:1
We have a hospice room at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio called the Room Above the Clouds. Families may choose to use it when their child is dying. As horrible as it is for a child to die, we can at least provide a beautiful place for it to happen. It is a sacred, holy place that is very “thin,” that is, a place where this world and the eternal meet. In fact, we don’t use this room for anything but hospice care out of the understanding of its sacredness.
Soon after we created the room, we began to hear stories from the families about visits made to their children by other children who have died. The children in the room who are still awake tell their families about the visitors. One three-year-old boy who was dying from cancer told his mother, “The children are here and they want me to come play with them. Can I go?” A 10-year-old boy told his parents, “There are children who have been visiting me, and they have told me not to be afraid.” One child, who had been non-verbal for years, began to smile, babble excitedly, and laugh out loud. Always, the parents are enormously comforted when their child tells them about the other children. We now prepare the families that their children may have these visitors to accompany their child on their journey.
There is an understanding among the clinical staff that even though medicine is a science, there is also mystery involved. The staff is also very comforted by these visits. As we all go about our daily business in the hospital taking care of children and their families, we remain aware at a deeper level of a more profound truth — we are truly surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
Diane Thrush is a chaplain at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio and a member of St. Luke’s, San Antonio. Reach Diane at diane.thrush@MHShealth.com