The Chaplain’s Visit
From the next room, I hear Barbara explaining her role and wish I could see the expression on Bea’s face.
There is a long silence. Then Bea says, “I’m very old.”
Barbara brings up death.
I hear Bea say, “I would like to just go to sleep.”
“Yes, that is what everyone would like,” Barbara tells her. “And you know, that happens for a lot of people.”
The two talk about Heaven and why Bea doesn’t believe in its existence. Then Bea turns the conversation to Barbara’s hometown. The chaplain is adroit at returning to the topic at hand. She explains how different people have different reactions to old age and the inevitability of death (my words.)
Bea asks why Barbara came. Barbara patiently explains that Bea qualifies for a hospice visit because of extreme old age, that Barbara is here to help Bea think about these things, that she is “an available resource.”
They discuss the importance of relationships and love in one’s life. Barbara brings up Bea’s impact on me. How I will always carry Bea with me as I move through my life. “If no other way, we live on that way. We continue to live in each other’s hearts.”
Barbara stays an hour or so. At the end, she says a very nice improvised prayer and I hear Bea thank her. They recite the Lord's Prayer together.
A successful visit, wouldn't you say?