John was sitting up in bed as I approached his room. “Come on in, Sister. Father has just left.”
Somewhat hesitant, I entered the room aware that his wife and daughter were in tears. I asked John if there was anything I could do for him. “Sing for me” he replied, and I began singing the words to YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE. John immediately bellowed out the song, and his wife and daughter joined in. Through their tears they gave me the courage to enjoy a heartwarming visit with John.
I learned later that week that he died peacefully the next day. He was my sunshine ray of courage.
While I am not officially a pastoral caregiver, I have been a “story writer” at our local hospital for fifteen years. I interview patients and write down their stories, to preserve these memories for their families and friends. Ministering to patients on hospice care and their families has become the joy of my life.
I have often been asked how I could deal with death and dying and not become depressed by it. I am not, by nature, a courageous person. I have found, however, that if I am able to overcome my fears and my hesitancy, I receive the gift of courage and find fulfillment in accompanying others in their last days. They will always be my rays of sunshine even on the gloomiest days.
Mary B. Wiecezak