Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And behind the scenes of great joy...

there is always something else going on. I have just finished typing up and printing out four copies of a sign-in sheet to be posted on the door of a woman in our congregation who is in hospice care at a nearby nursing home.

During the last several days of the run-up to the dedication service on Sunday, we learned that this woman, very active in our congregation, creative, strong, her cancer on hiatus it seemed, was not really sick with the flu, as we had all thought and as she had thought too. Instead, she is dying of something we had all hoped she'd beaten.

We have tried to keep all the plates in the air, managing everything that needed to be managed: sitting with her quietly, helping her son with his last visit, arranging for refreshments for the visiting clergy at the dedication, soothing ruffled feelings about one issue or another, communicating with her health care advocate about her last wishes, running interference with nursing home staff and congregants who want to visit, writing thank you notes to dignitaries who spoke at the dedication, saying goodbye to our departing DRE and hello to our new DRE, finding a custodian AGAIN, inviting young adults to a first gathering, newsletter deadlines, greeting visitors, finding a way to manage the many friends who arrive in clumps and want to visit our member.

And so the signup sheets, a prosaic way of dealing with the last days of a friend's life. "Visits are limited to one hour; please do not try to converse with ___; just sit quietly and be present with her; thank you for understanding." I print them out, find a decent pen to attach, put them with my stuff to take on a string of pastoral visits. Four should be more than enough.

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