Last weekend, as you may remember, I spent quite alot of my time at the bedsides of those who had died in hospital here or in Gloucester.
Holy ground - even when you tread there only by virtue of your place on the "duty chaplain" rota.
Ten days ago I had a difficult conversation with one of my own church family who knew that she was approaching the final stages of her cancer. She asked if I would be with her, if I could, when the time came...and of course I said that, if there were any possibility, night or day, I'd be there.
She died this afternoon. I wasn't there...it was so quick that none of her nearest and dearest were either.
I know absolutely that this is so not not about me....but I'm still young enough in ministry to mind (far more than I should) that on the rare occasions when a hard conversation has happened, when I've been allowed to be there as someone has had the courage to confront their own mortality, I've not been able to stay there to the end.
T., E., M. - you taught me so much about facing your own death with faith and courage.
I'm sorry that it wasn't possible for me to be with you, to hold your hand and pray as we had imagined.
But I'm so glad that you are all safe home now.