Jump directly to the Content

Inside Hospice Room 436

What really matters.

I watched a man die last night.

Hospice Room 436 lay unusually quiet — except for labored breathing, a sound like a man running a long final lap. His blue hospital gown rose and fell on the heaving chest.

The black magic marker tag above the bed read: "Gillis, Algerd." Al was the father of Michael, my friend. When my dad died, eight years ago, Michael stood by me. When the sympathy cards had stopped coming and I began the terrifying freefall into grief, Michael had been my parachute. Now I could stand with him in vigil at his father's deathbed.

I tried to look into Al's eyes, which had always been playful. He had reminded me of Pinocchio's Gepetto. Under his silver eyebrows, dark now circled the eyes; his lids were slightly open, but the eyes were rolled back and showed only white. Clear, plastic tubing snaked from the wall to a mask covering his nose and mouth. The nurses said he might make it through the night; they weren't sure. ...

May/June
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
Measuring What Matters
Measuring What Matters
Despite the barriers, churches are finding effective metrics of soul transformation.
From the Magazine
I Cried Out to the Name Demons Fear Most
I Cried Out to the Name Demons Fear Most
How Jesus rescued a New Age psychic from spiritual darkness.
Editor's Pick
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
Understanding God and our world needs more than bare reason and experience.
close