The chaplain was just finishing his prayer for the woman who had died. The family was huddled around the bed. Curled up in bed with her was the woman’s husband, staring at her face and mouth, reminding me of the way a new mother takes in every detail of her newborn from only inches away. My eyes drifted back to closed as the prayer neared its end, when suddenly a loud moan started. The moan, coming from her husband, quickly escalated to a panicked scream as he began to yell “She’s not breathing…she’s not breathing”, His eyes saucer wide drilling holes into her half open mouth. Although she’d passed away 20 minutes before, the reality was just hitting him.
The room erupted into emotion as someone near the husband grabbed him in a bear hug whispering to “let her go”. He seemed in a trance, having an emotional seizure of sorts. Even though I already had tears running down my face it wasn’t until he then embraced her saying out loud, “One more, let me hold you one more time” that I lost it. Something cracked in my self-made wall of distance and for a moment I realized what it might feel like to have your very last embrace with someone you love.
Another hard reminder on my first week back to work, how precious our time is with those around us.