Thursday, September 23, 2010

She's Gone Away

I've been visiting and bringing communion to an elderly woman, who I'll call May, for nearly two years every Sunday unless one of us was sick or out of town.

Over time May would share or indicate that she felt she had lost the meaning of her life. She couldn't see how her life mattered anymore and was ready to die. She would ask why God kept her alive. She was terrified of living in a nursing home. She would have periods of sequestering herself away followed by periods of engaging with others.

When she would engage with others and share about these experiences she just glowed. I told her a number of times that she had a gift for listening and a knack for asking just the right questions. I had hoped that she would find meaning, her meaning within her interactions with others.

But something changed and it changed all of a sudden. I had gone to visit but she wasn't there, so when I returned the following week we visited. And in the course of our conversation I realized that she didn't know who I was. So I worked in my name within our conversation, but that didn't seem to help. And then I realized she was anxious because she didn't know why I was there with her. So I asked her if she would like to have communion now and she said no. I then asked her if she would like me to return next Sunday and she said yes.

Over the course of the next month May would become more confused, and she was returning to a time of her childhood. And that's when I began to prepare myself that one Sunday I would visit and she would no longer be there because to live where she was requires a certain amount of being able to take care of yourself and a certain amount of presentness.

Last Sunday was the Sunday where her small "apartment" was completely empty. Even though I knew it was coming, I miss May. I worry about May - she's now where she was most afraid of going.

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