1 Corinthians 15:54

I watched a woman die last week.deathquotesredo550

It was near midnight when I stepped into Mrs. O. M’s room at the nursing home in Nassawadox.  Mrs. O. M was a member of my church in Cheriton.  Years ago she had played the organ in our services.  A stroke had left her without a memory.

The resident across the way was straightening his blanket, partly hidden by the half-drawn curtain that divided the room.  There were no doctors present.  There were no machines to prop  life up, to pump fluids, to whiz and whirl in perpetual life support.

It was a quiet night.  The padded shoes of the attendants making rounds in the halls accompanied the soft conversation of myself and Mrs. O. M’s daughter and husband.  We sat tightly bunched on the left side of the bed where the unsteady rise and fall of Mrs. O. M’s chest could be seen.

We felt so helpless.  We were mere spectators in a game without rules.  I couldn’t just blow a whistle and call a halt to it all.   We sat.  We watched.  She died.  It was that simple.

It’s a stunning thing to sit precariously on a front row seat watching the drama of death play itself out.  We were in two worlds that night:  We were here.  We were  there.  She was here.  Then, she was there.  We saw her make the transition.  We watched her step over the boundary that divides the worlds.  We prayed as she slid smoothly into eternity.

I will never forget that night.  I met death firsthand.  I left with its breath on my heart.  I felt the chill.  But I gained confidence in the encounter.  And I departed with the thought of Paul’s text on my mind.

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting? (1 Cor. 15:54).

David R. Denny  Ph.D.

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