The nurse manager on the oncology unit asked me to look in on Marcelo and his wife. Marcelo was 62 years old and dying of cancer. It had originated in his colon and metastasized to the spine and liver. This was the fourth time he’d been admitted to the unit, and this time he wouldn’t be going home. The next stop was hospice, but his wife would not or could not entertain the idea of her husband dying.
I introduced myself to Mrs. Ruiz as Chodo, the chaplain on the unit. “Hello, Father,” she said, assuming that because I was a chaplain I was a Catholic priest. I told her I was a Buddhist. “That’s OK, Father,” she said. “The Lord has sent you to us. Please call me Maria, and this is my husband, Marcelo. Can you please tell him he has to fight?” She gestured to her husband emphatically. “He is giving up,” she said. “But I don’t believe God is ready for him yet.
“I want to take him home and make him all his favorite dishes,” she continued. “He’s not eating any of the food they serve him here, and to be honest I wouldn’t either.”
I said hello to Marcelo. “Hello, Father,” he replied. Maria offered me the chair next to his bed, lowering her voice. “Perhaps you can say a prayer, Father,” adding again, “He’s giving up and God is not ready for him yet.”
I asked Marcelo if he would like me to pray for him. “Yes, maybe in a while that will be nice,” he replied.
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