Chaplaincy journal 4: Precious

She broke her hip and now it’s infected.  Two months of hospital time.  She misses her dog.  She isn’t sure why she fell.  She’s walked down that hall thousands of times before and been just fine.  She’s glad she and her husband got those necklaces, though, the ones where you push the button and they send help.

I ask about her husband and she starts to cry.  He died in November.  52 years of marriage. They grew up together and he’d always tell the other boys, “Don’t mess with her.  She’s my woman.  I’m going to marry her when I get old enough.”  He went to Korea, sent her six or seven letters a day, and when he came back, he swept her off her feet and married her.

They lost their first child at 16 weeks.  He was tiny and perfect and her husband held the little one while he died.  They never forgot him.

Four more children.  Then the Vietnam War.  Her husband would give his rations to the kids over there.  There were always so many of them going hungry.  The other boys didn’t bother, but he did.  Every day he saved some for them.  The war changed him, but they raised their kids right.  They never wasted food — he made sure of that.

He died in November.

Precious, the little shitzu, likes her, but she loved him.  When he died, Precious stopped eating and just sat in front of his chair, all day, every day, waiting for him to come back.

She fell in January.  I suspect the grief had her in a cloud of gray.  She tells me that her daughter got rid of his chair and got a new one, hoping it would help Precious feel better.

She looks at me with eyes that search my face for something.

“Precious misses me,” she says.

“I bet.  I imagine you miss her, too.”

“I do, I really do.”

“In some ways the two of you understand each other in this in a way no one else does.”

She nods and tears trickle down her cheeks.  “He wouldn’t want me to give up.  He’d want me to get better.”

Between the words I catch a glimpse of her tiredness, a corner of the question pokes through:  “Can I make it through this?”

I pray for her — for the love that is stronger than death to find a way to connect her with her love, and for precious companionship in the stumbles.

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