This morning I just said goodbye to a friend. Between my home and the clinic is a building that is being used by my friend’s organization, The Living Room. It is a hospice. Although I’m not officially a part of the Living Room staff, I regularly do consults and put together care-plans for the patients there. From day one I have called this patient Agui, which means grandpa. He has been at the Living Room for a number of months. I’ve performed a number of his medical procedures and done some of his dressing changes over the months. Every day he has been out laying or sitting under a tree as I pass by on my way to the clinic. I often stop to visit with him for a few moments. Although we shared neither genetics nor the same language, he became my Kenyan grandfather.
An older man, in his early nineties, he has entertained us with his twinkling eyes and strong spirit. There are times when we have actually thought he might make a full recovery. But last month he developed pneumonia and it finally got the better of him this morning. My friend Juli, who is the international founder and director of this hospice, was away this morning. One of the caregivers from the home came running breathless to my office. He rapidly told me in Swahili that it was Agui and they needed my help. I raced down with him to Agui’s bedroom and saw that he was definitely on his way out of this world.
I sat at his bedside and began to stroke his forehead as my mother had when I was a little girl. I then prayed with him. I asked the Lord to be near to him as he made this final journey. I asked for peace of body, mind and spirit. I asked God for relief of any pain or suffering Agui was feeling. I then asked our friend Morogo, the social worker, to pray in Kalenjin. Morogo asked me if Agui would really understand. I replied that we wouldn’t know for sure, but on the chance that he could it was good for him to hear a prayer in his mother tongue. I then invited a few of the other care-givers to join us in the room to sing songs and hyms. As we sang “Rock of Ages” in Swahili Agui took a final breath and then slipped away through heaven’s door.
I can’t tell you how thankful I was to be there in his final moments. There is something powerful about holding the hand of a friend who is about to meet Jesus face to face. It was a holy moment; one that I wouldn’t trade.