Emotionally she was worn down. Just weeks earlier, and very unexpectedly, her father, who lived continents away had died. She made the trek to mourn, but being so far away missed the official funeral ceremonies. She returned to the states to continue her duties as a resident in my residency program. It was evident she was hurting, feeling guilt for not being by her father’s bedside in death. As a Hindu, her faith gave her no hope for closure. And yet, how mysteriously God works…
She was working in the ICU after her return. A tough month regardless, but compounded by her emotional instability. Mr. J was an elderly lung cancer patient in her care. All knew he was close to his end. On this particular night, all signs pointed to this being the time. All day he had been inquiring about the arrival of his only son. He made it clear he wanted to tell him goodbye. Sunitha, my friend, knew all to well how important it was for both of them. His son arrived mid afternoon, and was by his bedside constantly.
Around 8 o’clock Sunitha came again to check on her patient, Mr. J’s son decided to head to the vending machines to grab a snack and something to drink. He walked from the room and Sunitha inquired about those medical things like pain and anxiety. Suddenly as the two talked, Mr. J looked at Sunitha and said, “The time is now, I’m dying.” Sunitha in a panic looked for the son, wanting to escape and get him back in the room. Mr J, however, looked Suintha in the eyes and quietly asked, “Please don’t leave. Will you just hold my hand and say a prayer for me”.
In that moment, Sunitha the Hindu, took this dying man’s hand and though not clear on what kind of prayer this man wanted, she opened her heart to God on his behalf. She tells me that it became her father’s hand that she held. She wept and told her father goodbye. Such a profound peace and closure came over her as Mr J slipped away.
The timing of his death, though seeming to be at the worst time – in those minutes his son had stepped away, was perhaps perfect in a grander sense.