Watching and waiting...

I am sitting by my sister's bedside tonight at 3:20 am: watching and waiting.  And praying and thinking, too but mostly watching and waiting.  Beth is close to death.  She was taken off life support 60 hours ago - and for some reason is still just barely with us.  It has been an agonizing few days for her and those who love her and in so many ways we all pray that she leaves all this suffering soon.

At the same time, I believe that staying present with your loved ones through their death is an important act of love.  And just because it is hard or ugly does not mean it isn't also sacred.  More often than I can count, someone is blessed in God's mysterious way by being part of the journey through death so I never want to see it interrupted.  Now, I don't presume to know who or what the blessing in this hard death will be; but I trust by faith that it will be real.

Last night, on my watch, I prayed most of this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer  with Beth from memory:

Almighty God, look on this your servant, lying in great weakness, and comfort her with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God the Father,Have mercy on your servant.
God the Son,
Have mercy on your servant.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on your servant.

Holy Trinity, one God,Have mercy on your servant.
From all evil, from all sin, from all tribulation,
Good Lord, deliver her.
By your holy Incarnation, by your Cross and Passion, by your precious Death and Burial,
Good Lord, deliver her.
By your glorious Resurrection and Ascension, and by the Coming of the Holy Spirit,
Good Lord, deliver her.
We beseech you to hear us, Lord Christ: That it may please you to deliver the soul of your servant from the power of evil, and from eternal death,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord. That it may please you mercifully to pardon all her  sins,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord. That it may please you to grant Beth a place of refreshment and everlasting blessedness,We beseech you to hear us, good Lord. That it may please you to give her joy and gladness in your
kingdom, with your saints in light,
We beseech you to hear us, good Lord.

Jesus, Lamb of God:
Have mercy on her
Jesus, bearer of our sins:
Have mercy on her
Jesus, redeemer of the world:
Give her your peace.

Tonight, with Beth so close to death - but with all of God's darkness surrounding us, too -we decided that we could not let her pass alone. So Di took a shift, Phil took a shift and now I am up.  After 7 am Karen will take a shift if necessary.  Clearly, in death and is life, my sister is moving at her own time table and is working something out that in unknown to the rest of us.  This dying business is tough work for everyone involved.  Last night we gathered at Karen's house for a late dinner respite and then stayed up way too late going through family pictures and telling stories.   

I've seen good deaths and hard death's - and my sense is that this is a hard death that is surrounded with lots of love.  And that rings true to Beth's life, too.  When I prayed the Lord's Prayer with her about 10 minutes ago, her eyes opened for a bit before she drifted away.  My sister Karen has been singing hymns to her quietly, too whenever she is taking a shift.  Truly, now we see as through a glass darkly but trust by faith that later we shall see face to face.


Philomena Ewing said…
You show such great faith and love here. Blessings and prayers for your sister and God's strength and love for all your family at this time.
Shepard said…
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
RJ said…
Thank you dear friends, thank you.

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