Last month on March 16, I had the experience of being present at the death of a very dear friend, Sister Janice Wedl. As the gravity of S. Janice’s illness became clear she became equally clear about the fact that she wanted only comfort care and wanted to go home to God. Knowing that she was approaching her death, she was able to say her good-byes to each of us. This was a profound experience.
She remained conscious a day or so longer, but Sunday forenoon, March 14, was the last time she was conscious enough to recognize us and respond when we greeted her. That morning I greeted her and was so delighted when she recognized me. The only words she said to me were, “Linda, you have to let me go.” I tried to assure her that I was letting her go and that I appreciated her good-bye to me. Those final words puzzled me because I felt that I had indeed accepted her wish to go home to God. In our good-bye I had told her that I would miss her, but that I wanted to bless her longing and her journey.
As I pondered her words, all I could come up with was the sense that she was conscious of my delight as I noted that she could still respond to me. Was she sensing the grief I would feel when that communication was no longer possible? Was she trying to help me face the coming deep sense of loss? I have come to believe that her last words were not about her needs, but about the concern she had for me as she prepared to go home to our Mother God. I consider her final words as a gift that I am trying my best to unwrap and study.