Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Dorris circa 1935

The nurse made a note in the hospice logbook that Dorris has begun her journey. As we sat with her on Sunday afternoon, I considered this metaphor. A journey implies a “moving toward.” What we are experiencing does not feel like a journey so much as a waiting.
We are waiting. We are visiting. We are resting. Dorris is not leaving; God is coming to her.

As we sit by her bedside, I think a proper metaphor would be waiting on the porch. We are waiting for something wonderful to come around the corner. Dorris’ bags are packed as she takes with her the only true thing of value – her faith. We wait for her Savior - then the journey will begin.

At this point, Dorris’ communication has reduced to utterances of 2-3 words. Among the last things she said that made sense are a conversation with her son, Paul after a nurse came in to visit.

Paul: Is she a friend of yours?
Dorris: (dismissing the question with a wave of her hand) People know the name.

And this rather poignant exchange with her daughter-in-law, Jan:

Dorris: I’m keeping a mental inventory.
Jan: Anything left?
Dorris: Just Marx.

Looking at Dorris in her bed requires a reminder that this is indeed the Dorris we know and love. The woman who always talked, always had an opinion, advice, or comment now utters mere remnants of a conversation that sound as if she is talking at a meeting. She can no longer sit up and walk. Her legs and arms show remnants of motion as if she might get up and take us for a walk in the garden. Strewn about her room are the remnants of her life – pictures of family, artwork, hair combs, scrapbooks, and newspapers. 

Her family members sit and talk in remnants of stories wrapped in the music of her son’s guitar.

We wait on this “front porch” and create silences. We pray and think about the wonderful gift of Dorris.

In the last few weeks, we have been through many “lasts.”

The last trip to church.
The last visit with the cat.
The last question.
The last meal.
The last bath.

Soon, it will be the last hand movement, the last breath, the last heartbeat.

Then, the journey begins.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Isaiah 30:15, ESV

He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
 It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25: 8-9, ESV

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
Isaiah 40:11a, ESV


Seggers said...

Oh, Kim, this is true and beautiful beyond words. One of the last times I was visiting with Mom, we found her sitting on the edge of her bed. We asked what she was doing and she answered, "I'm waiting for the wedding." Surely she was waiting for the Bridegroom. You are all in my prayers.

Karl Marxhausen said...

yes. jesus, tuck me in your pocket.