by Barbara Duffield
The kingdom of God was in an ICU unit last week. Family and a few friends had been standing watch for just over a month following a friend’s cancer diagnosis, as we prayed for the miracle that we all hoped for. We weren’t ready for her to leave us. She was only 52 and had survived so many health issues over the years that she seemed indestructible.
The doctors and nurses grieved her impending loss as well. The night before she was moved to the ICU several nurses came in and told her goodbye as they left following their shifts. Some would not be back for several days, and we now know she would be gone before they returned.
She was blind, and yet saw more with her beautiful, sightless, blue eyes than most of us do with two perfectly good ones. She was, according to a doctor when she was a child, “the best con-artist” he had ever seen. She heard everything, and if a comment was made in her presence about a beautiful blue sweater, or an amazing sunset, she would wait and then bring the comment out later as her own. She fooled many people, including me, when first meeting.
Her older sister spoke of a heart of gold within the body of a woman who had so little and yet would have given anything she had if someone mentioned they wanted it. She was fiercely independent and loved her husband with a love that knew no bounds. They were high school sweethearts who lost touch, and then just 12 years ago they met again. After two years of getting re-acquainted they were married and for ten years had a beautiful and strong marriage. They had their moments, to be sure, said her husband. He laughed at one point that she was the most stubborn woman he had ever known. And as she heard him say it, she smiled as if to say, “Yes, it’s true, I am.”
That stubbornness aside, the time came when she agreed that it was time to say goodbye. We stood by as the equipment that had invaded her body was removed and she said her hoarse goodbyes to those she loved. She finally was left alone with her husband and he sat vigil until 12 hours later when she was finally and completely healed.
There were moments of such holiness in the time of waiting – times you could feel the Spirit in the room. And then times when the noisy hospital corridors brought the world crashing back in. And all of that – the holiness and the noise, the sense of the Spirit’s presence and the pain of knowing that her earthly journey was nearing its end – all of that is part of the Kingdom of God. All of that is part of the Trinity that we know and sometimes even slightly understand. The Father is grieving with us in our pain, the Son is present to hold us if we will but reach out, and the Spirit is there to whisper to us of God’s love as He takes our friend to her forever home – her home in the Kingdom of God.
About the author: Barbara Duffield works in the communications department for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and is a member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Universal City. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org