A family member of the Boyfriend died of cancer yesterday. I won’t go into that here because his family isn’t one to broadcast anything about them, and I want to respect that.
What has been on my mind lately is something that a hospice nurse said to us while we were sitting in the hospice room for Boyfriend’s family member: “I’m not really religious or anything, but what I do believe is that angels come to us before we die. I’ve had patients, right before they pass, begin talking to people who aren’t in the room. When I ask them who they are speaking to, they’ll say a spouse or their parent who has been long gone. I had one patient say right before he died: ‘Amazing.’ So I truly believe that our loved ones come to us before we die, and they take us to where we’re going next.”
Most of my friends and family members rarely hear me discuss religion or anything spiritual. Heck, I bet some would guess I’m atheist (I’m not).
I was raised Catholic, and when I turned 16 and had my confirmation, my father told me that I was an adult in the church’s eyes. If I didn’t want to go to church, I didn’t have to go. So I didn’t, much to some of my family members’ dismay. My father never pressured me to return to church, which I am grateful for. I’ve had issues with the Catholic religion based on their social views, and because of that, it’s not been a religion I want to associate myself with. I felt then, and I still do to this day, the Catholic Church is behind the times, and it’s oppressive.
The God I choose to believe in is not a spiteful or vengeful God, and He created us all in his likeness. I remember one time, in high school, this girl in my yearbook class was on this rant about homosexuality. She was talking about how it’s a sin, according to the Bible. When I asked her the last time she went to church or read the bible, she cursed me out. (Yeah, I wasn’t popular in high school.)
While I haven’t been to a church or service, really, for most of my adult life, I haven’t stopped believing. Most of my belief in God and heaven is tied up with my mom. I want to believe that I will see her again, and I’ve always felt her presence in my life when I needed strength. When I was in an emergency room in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, after experiencing the then-most tragic event in my life, I was talking to her in between sobbing.
When I heard the hospice nurse talk about those about who are about to die who see their loved ones, I almost lost it. (I waited until I was in the car by myself before sobbing.) I have no doubt that my mother would be there, my grandfather (her father) and my grandmother (my dad’s mother) will be those who I see. The idea that while still alive, I’ll still see my lost loved ones again filled my heart in a way I hadn’t felt, probably ever. In that moment in the hospice room, I physically felt my beliefs, if that makes sense. I was overcome with such extreme emotion that I was afraid I was going to make a scene in front of Boyfriend’s family, which would have been the absolute worse.
The nurses there also reminded me that there are angels on Earth. Those who provide hospice care to the dying are absolute angels. To do what they do, day in and day out, I’m just blown away. It definitely takes a special type of person to be surrounded by death and their grieving loved ones, and still be smiling and asking, “What can I do for you?”
Even those this wasn’t my family member dying, it was still awful to watch him/her dying. Watching anybody dying is pretty horrifying. This was my first time being so death-adjacent after my own cancer diagnosis, and it was frightening to watch. I felt bad for the actual person dying, helpless watching Boyfriend and his family be so distraught, and then guilty for wondering, “Is this my future?”
Boyfriend’s family member is at peace and no longer suffering. I hope whoever greeted him/her onto his next journey was someone incredibly special.
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest from it.”
One thought on “Angels”
This is a really thought-provoking post. Watching someone die is really hard, but I feel it’s also a wonderful privilege to sit beside someone who’s transitioning between life and death. The memories that I have of my mom while she was dying are some of my most painful memories, but they are also some of my most treasured ones. And it’s no wonder you almost ‘lost it’ when the hospice nurse was talking to you about those angels. It makes perfect sense to me that you ‘felt your beliefs’ in that moment. Thanks for writing this. And I’m sorry about the death of your boyfriend’s family member. xx