We watched him go by. He was the mottled color of granite without the shine. He was being carefully, slowly pushed along the corridor in probably a Stryker hospital bed that sits up, by 3 medical personnel, one keeping an eye on all the poles and bags and pulling a large green oxygen canister behind her. A tube ran up one of his nostrils and he had oxygen as well. He was by all appearances on his last earthly legs, so to speak. They brought him outside into the sunny garden, for what surely seemed one of the last times. He kept his fading eyes straight ahead for the journey.
One of us was thinking, “He’s in way worse shape than I am.” The other of us was thinking, it’s very nice to say I can put my forehead against Christ’s as He prays at the rock alone, and that perhaps we throughout all the ages are part of the timeless “comforting angel” that was sent to Him, perhaps He would sense my/our every willing hour spent watching with Him after all. But until I was also to put my forehead against a dying mortal man’s forehead, so to speak, and pump fluids and nutrients and air and sunshine and together-together-togetherness into him and receive the only thing he has left: breath, I myself seemed to have also remained in that sorrow sleep further behind in the garden.
I often watched with the crucified when I finally became a nursing assistant in homes for the aged/infirm, and was about to find out that it is not our choice to be with Him; it is His choice — to be with us. In every moment. He is there.