“This is Chaplain Jon responding to a page.”
“The patient is dying. The doctor would like you here.”
I found the patient’s wife in a consult room. She was tearful. I heard about their relationship. I heard about Bill’s love and compassion. I heard about what a chaplain hears about when the news is scary.
I sat with her while the three doctors came in to describe the procedure they were about to try. It wasn’t quite in the “it will take a miracle” category, but it was close.
The presence of three doctors was scary to me, but somehow comforting to her. To me, it meant that this procedure was risky and uncertain and perhaps lacking in unanimity. To her, it meant that we were doing everything possible.
We walked to the surgery waiting area. I prayed. I asked for wisdom for the doctors. I asked for peace and safety for the family who was traveling through the night. I acknowledged God’s power and wisdom. And then I said, “But what Amy would really like is Bill. And so I ask for his life back.”
I left her to take care of other calls. I promised I would come back. But when I got back to the waiting area, she was gone. I hurried to the unit where we’d first met. I saw her, far down the hallway.
When I caught up to her, she said that the doctors had been positive. When I checked his room, her husband was groggy but responsive. And alive.
A week or so later I stopped by his room. He was sitting in a chair. I talked about how scared we’d been the night of the procedure. I talked about how good it was to see him. He was conversational, working to go home, aware that he had an underlying illness that would create challenges for the rest of his life.
But we were both grateful for this conversation. A conversation that was outside the odds, at the edges of medical expertise. A conversation with one whose life I’d asked for.