On occasion the situation arrises when one or both of my children come with me to visit someone in hospice. The little voices, smiles, and energetic movement seem first out-of-place, almost outlawed by the “please be quiet” sign the hospital hallway. In a home, it is a bit different. The children, while guests, seem to be more appropriate to the environment, but even then, our first reaction is to calm them down.
I can not speak for everyone, but I do know that those I have visited are thankful for their presence. For a few moments, the focus moves away from endings to continuation. The children are invited to snack on cookies or encouraged to play games even as the adults in the room mourn. The end and the beginning merges, bringing just a bit of God’s joy to the departing and their family.
When/if I am on my death-bed, as I feel my body struggling to be re-born into God’s arms, I hope to be surrounded by the voices of children, even a baby crawling on top of me, instead of in a quiet, somber room. I pray God allows me to live until the final moment – even if it is vicariously through the lives of children who only faintly understand the mystery and permanence of the moment.
God, let our lives be filled with joy and love and laughter until the very end. Let us celebrate the gift of life, and the sure and unfailing knowledge that we will eternally reside in your love.