Another Wavelength

Another Wavelength

From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

Another Wavelength

God made Truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them.

Kahlil Gibran

When I was a young nurse, we had a patient in our hospital who, although gravely ill, did not want to talk about this subject, nor did he want to pray. Although the doctors warned him that it was time to give these matters serious thought, he seemed not to hear it. “Oh, I’ll make peace with the Lord when the time comes,” he said to me with a wink. Despite this, he was a lovable, cooperative, cheerful man with a great enthusiasm for life and a generous interest in others. The one cherished object he had managed to bring with him to the hospital was a shortwave radio, which he kept on a nightstand next to his bed.

As I cared for other patients, I passed his room, which was right next to the nurses’ station. Each time I passed, I said a little prayer. And each time I passed, he called out loudly, “Anne, come and listen! I think I’ve tuned in Rhodesia”—or some other faraway country that held for him some particular fascination.

Too busy to stop at his request one afternoon, I laughed in response to his usual invitation to “Come listen!” and told him I couldn’t stop right then. “But be sure to tell me,” I joked, “if you tune in heaven!”

A few days later, he had a major stroke. Already severely ill, this added to his rapidly weakening condition. He was no longer able to speak, except for an occasional word or two, and this with great difficulty.

One night I went into his room with his medications and his enteral feeding, and I lingered longer than usual, trying to find some way of making him more comfortable. For once, the shortwave radio remained silent. He struggled to breathe.

While I was adjusting the bed linens, he tugged on my sleeve, indicating that he wanted to tell me something. I bent close to his ear. He smiled weakly with a twinkle in his eye. With great difficulty, he managed to form these words with his last breaths:

“I did it, Anne . . . I . . . finally . . . tuned in . . . heaven!”

Anne Wilson

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