I typically don’t write about religion or politics because no matter what is said an argument will ensue. Today, I’m breaking that rule because I met someone yesterday who raised some pretty heavy questions, which I’m still contemplating this morning.
The scene took place at my father’s bedside in the hospital. The girl was one of my father’s neighbors. She brought her 10 year old son and a cute squishy soft stuffed animal to keep my Dad company as he waits for death to come.
After I introduced myself and Melissa sat down beside me, she had a lot of questions about my father’s situation. I’m sure many people do, but they are afraid to ask, but I got the impression that Melissa always shares what she is thinking. She seemed surprised my father was awake and alert. She marveled at his sharp memory. But she wanted to know when my Dad was scheduled to die.
Thank God, my father is as deaf as a post. I hoped he was sheltered from Melissa’s questions about how much time was left for him and what was hospice doing to help his death along. You see, since my father has rallied since he first was admitted to the hospital, he believes he’ll see his 90th birthday. For some reason, that milestone has become important to him.
But it is unlikely Dad will achieve that milestone. The kidney cancer is spreading and his kidneys have failed. His heart is so weak, just getting out of bed and stepping into the bathroom took all of his strength.
After I tried to change the subject a few times, Melissa said, “I just don’t get it. Why do people have to suffer to die? What does life and death really mean? Why are we here, anyhow? What’s the point?” Whoa, Melissa—those are very heavy questions. Not exactly bedside conversation.
She looked at me with searching eyes and said, “I’m not religious. I didn’t grow up knowing about God and stuff. I want to believe, but I really don’t know how to go about it.”
At that moment, I knew I met Melissa for a reason. She was looking for something to hang on to. She cared for my Dad and wondered why he just couldn’t pass if there was no hope. So I tried to help her. “Nobody really knows for sure what our purpose is. Scholars and scientists have searched for answers just like you are now. What I can tell you, though, is Jesus taught his followers they could have a personal relationship with God; they didn’t have to have belong to a church, and God would hear you, if you just talk to Him.”
She thought about it for a while. “So, how do I talk to God?”
“Well, I just talk to him like I do when I’m talking with one of my friends. Pretend you’re visiting over a cup of coffee and say what’s in your heart. I use my time in the car to talk to God.”
“Really? I can just talk into the air and God will hear me?”
“Truthfully, you can just think about something, and God will hear you. Whether you believe it or not, God lives within you. We’re all connected to each other that way. That’s why you care about my Dad as much as you do. God brought you here.”
“It really works that way?”
“I believe it does. And that’s all that’s important.”
She nodded and said, “Thanks, Barb. This has helped me.”
I don’t know whether our exchange at my father’s bedside enlightened her. My intention was to relieve her sadness and frustration of losing someone she carried about. Believing in God or the Universe or the Source, is important to most of us. I think we have to believe that there is more than to life than what we understand here. We have to believe that we are everlasting spirits who take on form for a short time and then are released for eternity until we decide to take on form again. I believe I was supposed to be there for Melissa. I hope she finds some of the answers and peace.