Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A couple of weeks elsewhere

I've not added anything to these pages for a couple of weeks because I have been caught up with events around here. Although everyone has been affected by the horror of the bomb blasts in London, we've been affected in this village by the death of a young woman who, though ill for some time succumbed to complications brought about by her sickness very quickly and her death was a shock to everyone.

The day after my writing attempt (see below) I was called upon to visit the local Intensive Care Unit in Cambridge where I stayed for some time with the family of this 20 year old girl. Her kidneys had failed 2 1/2 years ago and since then she had been on constant dialysis whilst a donor had been sought for a new kidney. When her blood pressure suddenly went up she was admitted to hospital where she lost consciousness and as pressure increased in her brain her autonomic functions shut down and her brain died. I was amazed by the way the family coped with this awful situation and, with trips home to grab a bit of sleep and deal with the other things in my life that needed covering, spent as much time in the hospital as I could over the next 48 hours - including most of one night just chatting to the family and offering a listening ear and some distraction therapy as we talked about vintage tractors, motorbikes and the beauty of Ireland (home of my fathers, so it is).

Then, nearly two weeks ago, she was pronounced brain dead and the ventilator was turned off and she slipped away. I missed that moment as, ironically, I had to go and officiate at a funeral. But I have tried to see and support the family as much as possible in the past couple of weeks.

So this has been at the front of my mind for most of the time since I last wrote. Another reminder of the fragility of life and the great sadness that can overwhelm us, especially when we don't expect it. It has meant that I've not stopped to write for the last couple of weeks, though I'm not really worried about that as I feel most of my 'creativity' has been engaged in making some sense of these events and praying for the family. Today is the day of the funeral and we'll soon be making our way to the Church for the final farewell to this brave, caring young woman. It is part of that rich tapestry that makes up ministry....

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