A Day in the Life of Santa Teresita…Our Neighborhood of Care
Our Lord seems to take our dear residents home in threes. The third one was called home this past Monday. I was praying Alex would not die alone. He was in the hospital and his only son was out of the country. I was also praying that one of the Brothers would be able to be present to at the moment of Alex’s death. God heard my prayer.
I slipped out and drove over to see Alex, bringing the Blessed Sacrament with me for another resident who was also in the hospital. I stopped by Alex’s room first knowing he was not doing well. Upon entering the room I could see that his breathing was shallow and irregular but he looked peaceful and I thought he had a few more hours, at least, upon this earth.
I blessed him with Lourdes water. I spoke to him, although his eyes were closed, I knew he could hear me. “I’m here, Alex. You’re not alone. Don’t worry. You can be at peace and let yourself rest in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.”
Then I told him that I had the Blessed Sacrament with me. I was standing there praying silently to the Lord with all my heart, bringing Alex with confidence and hope into His Real Presence. I had the pouch containing the Sacred Host resting right over my heart.
At that moment a doctor walked in and began telling me that Alex was in the dying process. He told me that he was going to call the family and discuss the removal of the oxygen mask as well as the administration of more morphine. A warning siren went off in my mind but I stayed calm. I let the doctor finish and then commented that the oxygen was helping Alex feel comfortable and not feel as though he were suffocating. I also mentioned that giving too much morphine could hasten his death. The doctor began to counter my statements when a nurse came quickly into the room saying that the patient’s heart rate was 24. “He is dying right now,” stated the doctor.
“I need to get near him,” I said, but before getting down by his bed, I called Brother to come quickly. Then I knelt down beside Alex’s bed, gently held his hand and began stroking his head ever so softly. “Jesus is coming to take you home to our Father’s House”, I told him. I began to sing to him the “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman” song, “Ave Maria”, and the sung version of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
As I was singing I felt as though the Blessed Sacrament was burning on my chest. “He wants me to put Him on Alex”, I thought. I took the pouch off from around my neck and held Jesus over Alex’s heart. Alex was still breathing but there was more and more time between each breath. “Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is right over your heart!” I told him.
This is how Brother Philip found me when he came in about 30 seconds after Alex took his last breath. “His heart is still beating,” I said.
We sang the “Our Father” and recited the Creed. We cried and prayed and sang some more and then, after his heart had stopped completely, we prayed the entire Divine Mercy Chaplet for the repose of his soul.
This was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, to witness the passing of such a beloved soul into the eternal embrace of the Father. I was blessed to be able to be present and to offer some form of consolation in his last agony. I was pondering it all afterward and thought about how the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was burning with love for Alex, who had suffered with him on the cross as he was struggling with each breath. Jesus wanted to be so very close to Alex and to show him His great love and that He would not leave him alone. This had been one of Alex’s greatest fears, and Jesus dispelled it and trounced it completely. He is faithful!