When he became tired, I knew better than to ask him to pray with me; but I said a silent prayer as I left him, that he would rest more easily and know that someone cared. He said I could come back. I looked forward to hearing more about his life, for more time to offer him human connection and to be blessed by his life stories. The next day he was sleeping when I came by…and then it was my weekend off. He died that Sunday alone.
Three days later, one of the nurses told me there was a note for me on the staff bulletin board. I picked it up – it was a carefully folded piece of plain paper. On the outside it simply said, “For Deborah Haffner.” On the inside fold, in shaky handwriting, it said, “Oh Lord, I believe. Help throw my unbelief.” It was signed Fred F.
It was a note from a dead person. Where it had been those three days was and is a complete mystery. My co-chaplain, a Greek Orthodox priest, said to me, “How wonderful Debra, you brought him back to his faith.”
I think it was Mr. F’s way of reaching back to the faith he loved hours before his death, hoping that his faith was greater than his atheism in his last hours. But, I think in his own way, he was also saying thank you, thank you for the human connection that he so needed before he died. That note hangs in my office today, as a reminder of how faith is lived, one person, one moment, one day at a time.
And that’s ultimately what I think Easter is really about. We all have the possibility of resurrection, of rebirth. We can move from struggle to hope, from despair to rebirth, from crucifixion to resurrection. We can roll away our rocks, and find ourselves anew. We can and we must, for we have no other way to create the life that is waiting for us to live, despite the struggles, despite the suffering.
And so may it be.