|Not Heaven, but the view over the Alps as we flew back home from Sicily. The clouds eventually cleared.
But that's not what this blog is about. I'm going to recount a tragic drama that occurred in a nearby bed in ICU. I wasn't conscious--covertly or otherwise--at this time, so I'm telling it secondhand based on Keith's memory.
In the bed lay a young girl who had also received a death sentence from her doctors. Her large extended family camped out beside her bed for extended periods, bringing snacks and pillows that they left in the corner of the waiting room for their return. I can't even begin to imagine the pain her family must've been in as the poor girl clung to life. We don't know her story, but it's apparent that they believed that her fight for life was at its end. The parents among my readers may already be weeping, and it brings a lump in my throat, as well. You might want to grab a box of Kleenex before I recount the short, wrenching conversation Keith overheard from the other side of the curtain.
One anguished relative said, "She's afraid to cross over." Another agreed, adding, "She was always afraid of the dark."
To me, this is as heartbreaking as it is illuminating. On the one hand, their faith was causing them distress because they truly believed that her fear of the dark was keeping her soul from "crossing over." [She was so young that she was still afraid of the dark--how heartbreaking is that?] But I think it was their deep faith that made them hope that she would get over her fear and reach the heavenly paradise they so fervently believed in. They of course wanted her to live, but since she wasn't going to, they wanted to take her hand, tell it's okay, and help lead her to her heavenly reward. They truly believed that she would be going to a better place.
I've mocked this idea countless times, but to them this must've been immensely comforting. Keith and my mother, however, had no such faith to fall back on. I think if her family had been nonbelievers, they would've been hoping against hope that she would defy the odds and live, much the way I did. Instead, they were praying that she would find the strength to leave this earthly veil.
Even though I think their faith was misguided, I can't help feeling glad that it gave them some comfort in this most unimaginably painful of times.