47: Bernadette

47: Bernadette

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses


The bonds of love are what connect us to the other side.

~John Edward

Bernadette was eighty-four years young and too weak to walk on her own. Three of her best friends wheeled her into her hospice room and promptly informed me that she liked her martinis, cigarettes and dancing.

Bernadette had a gleam in her eye and a joke on her tongue each morning as I assessed her. She was feisty, funny… and a bit afraid. She often asked, “Am I dying?”

I answered, “Only God knows.”

Between our serious conversations, she made me laugh.

One day Bernadette grew much weaker. She gestured toward the window and said, “Do you see Susie?”

I looked where she pointed.

Bernadette had a dreamy look on her face and her eyes stared in wonder. “Susie is there and she’s so beautiful.”

I carried on with my busy day while Bernadette mostly slept. Around dinnertime her daughter-in-law Mary arrived. “How’s Bernadette doing today?”

I informed her that Bernadette was indeed declining, then said, “She saw a beautiful girl named Susie this morning.”

Mary was amazed. She jumped back and leaned against the wall. She finally said, “Seventy-eight years ago, Bernadette lost her six-year-old daughter in a drowning accident. Her name was Susie.”

I was shocked and saddened to realize that this feisty, fun, martini-loving lady had borne the sorrow of losing her only daughter for many years. No wonder she’d had such a look of wonder on her face. She beheld her beautiful little girl who came to take her in her arms to spend eternity together.

~Christine Bielecki

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