Sense of Life. Articles in English. On Drawing Our Last Breath.
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On Drawing Our Last Breath

My grandmother landed in hospital. Tests revealed a malignant tumor. The doctors foresaw long months of suffering. Although my grandmother knew nothing of the diagnosis, she prepared herself for the imminent prospect of crossing to the “other shore.” She was always ready for death; in fact, she prepared us with a good number of “dry runs.” Several times, while lying ill in hospital, and then later at home, she would stand us on our feet, believing she was on the point of dying. But when Jesus came to her in the sacrament of the sick, everything would return to normal in a marvelous and astonishing way. And so it went on for three to four years.

On the day she finally went to the Lord there was nothing to indicate her time had come. That day I had a routine appointment with my doctor. As usual, I prayed while driving to the hospital. I recited the rosary, interceding for others, including my grandmother. I reached the hospital without any premonitions. While sitting in the waiting room, I reached for a book in my purse and began reading, so as not to waste time. After reading a page or so, I suddenly felt disinclined to read any more, as if reading were not called for at that moment. The words, “Jesus, I trust in You!” began to force themselves to my lips. “Someone may be dying,” I thought to myself. I recited the chaplet of Divine Mercy and followed it up with a decade of the rosary. The thought of someone experiencing an agony of mortal fear flashed through my mind. I muttered an “Eternal Rest” for the soul, and just at that moment they called me into the doctor’s office. It was not until I was leaving the hospital that I received a telephone call informing me that Grandmother had passed away just a short while ago–at 3:00 p.m. She had departed quietly, without saying a word. (But then, did she really say nothing? I am convinced she had been with me in that hospital waiting room and there begged me to join with her in prayer at that most difficult moment for all of us–that moment of great desolation, but also of great happiness when we finally meet what has hitherto been invisible to us.) She died at home in my mother’s arms.

I am absolutely convinced Grandmother’s soul had accompanied me in prayer both in the car and in the hospital waiting room. Is God not marvelous and full of mercy for having taken her to His bosom at precisely this time? Death is a great mystery to us all, although Jesus has lifted the veil slightly through the revelations of mystics. Consequently, it is easier for us to be in sympathy with the state of a soul as it crosses into eternity. We can understand the importance of the moment.

Everybody’s departure from this world prompts us to reflect on the moment of our own death. Who knows when it will be? That it will come one day is certain; and it is better to be well prepared for it, by living every day as if it were our last. Jesus Himself told us what to do, how to live, in order that eternity might be ours to enjoy: “Stay awake and pray, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (cf. Matthew 25:13).


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The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in June 2016.

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