The Watch

She was very afraid of dying. ‘I don’t want to die. Him upstairs will get a big stick and shout at me, tell me to go to hell. I’m frightened. I don’t want to be shouted at.’

And I hugged her, bereft of anything theological to say that sounded real, and she snuggled in.

‘Talk to me,’ she whimpered.

‘There was a man who had two sons…’ and I told her the story of the prodigal son and loving father.

‘Will you be with me when I die? Be sure and tell me that story.’

So I did, about an hour ago, now we are waiting for the undertakers.

Jane Millard, Fragments of the Watch (unpublished), quoted in Leaving Alexandria: a memoir of faith and doubt by Richard Holloway, p298. [Jane was a parish priest in Edinburgh at the height of the AIDs epidemic in the 1990s. She kept vigil by the bedside of many dying people from her area, and wrote notes of her thoughts or experiences.]

This touched me.

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