EDITOR’S NOTE: Rare comes an opportunity to share a story like this which you are now about to read not for its sad beginning, but for its beautiful ending. It is a gem that resonates deep within our human conscience and spirit because that’s who we all are really.
“We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience.
We are spiritual human beings going through a temporary human experience.”
AS THE END NEARS
A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words softly several times before the patient’s eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand.
The Marine wrapped his battle-toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encour-agement.
The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly-lit ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love, comfort and strength.
Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. But he refused.
Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital; the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings; the cries; and moans of the other patients.
Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died peacefully. A smile was on his limp face. The Marine slowly released the now lifeless hand he had been holding all night and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited quietly.
Finally, she returned.
A NURSE SHED IN TEARS
She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.
“Who was that man?” he asked.
The nurse was startled, “Why, he was your father!,” she answered.
“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”
“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”
“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed him, I stayed.”
I came here last night to find a Mr. William Grey. His son was killed in Afghan-istan yesterday morning, and I was sent here to inform him. What was this gentleman’s name?
The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey.”