Remembering God When all Else Is Lost

The article “‘What If I Forget About God?’ – A Surprising Look at Dementia and Religion” brought back a special memory to me. The article points out that a common fear among both dementia sufferers and their loved ones is that the person losing their memories of everything in their life will also forget about God. The article reassures us that while a dementia patient may not be able to express their memories and feelings about God, they never forget the Lord if they have loved and served Him.

Jack was hospitalized but expected to come home the next day. Our priest was leaving from a visit, and as Father Chip got to the door, Jack’s breathing pattern suddenly changed. Father Chip turned around and came back into the room. Although Jack was not expected to die soon, Father Chip recognized the breathing pattern characteristic of people near death.

He said, “Jack, you’re fixing to take a trip. Are you ready? Got your bags packed?”

Jack said, “I’m ready.” He cocked his head toward an empty chair by the bed. “God’s been sitting there in that chair talking to me about it,” he continued. “I’m ready.”

Jack did go home the following day, was home for a few days, then back in the hospital for a couple of days, then into a nursing home for a week while our friend and helper got the house ready for a hospital bed and round-the-clock nursing. He came home late Wednesday evening and entered home hospice the next day. Hospice staff gave me information about end-of-life and dying, pointing out that Jack was expected to live three or four months.

Sunday morning, I once again heard that death rattle in his breathing, and in a few minutes, he breathed his last.

I’m convinced that not only did Jack remember God, but that he was closer to Him that he had ever been before. I don’t know if he actually saw anything, but I know he felt God’s comforting presence and love.

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