I sit next to my friend, Georgia, while she sleeps in her bed. Her body is wracked with infection. Her organs are shutting down. She hasn’t been able to eat or drink in more than a week. While Georgia inhales and exhales deeply, I watch. I listen.
In and out, in and out. Every two seconds. Like clockwork.
I think about all the millions of breaths Georgia has taken over the past 80 years. And how God has provided every single one. How he was present with her very first. How He’ll be there during her very last.
The oxygen tank hums. Georgia still breathes.
In and out, in and out.
My eyes drift from my friend to her nightstand. The table is covered with medical supplies: oral swabs, wipes, mouthwash, and a bottle of hand lotion. The lotion catches my eye because of its name – “Cherish the Moment.” I pray aloud. “That’s what I’m trying to do, Lord.”
I look at this woman – this sweet lady that God brought into my life, and I cry. Tears fall because she’s dying. But, more than that, because I don’t know what’s next for her. I’m not sure where Georgia will be when she stops breathing.
Since God brought Georgia into my life in 2010, I’ve talked to her repeatedly about spiritual matters. Although she has always been polite and considerate, she has never showed interest in the things of God. When I first met Georgia, I asked if she believed Jesus died for her sins. She replied, “I’ve never sinned.” I didn’t know if she really meant it or if it was her dementia doing the talking.
You see, Georgia has battled mental illness for decades. From what I can tell, she suffered from some traumatic event in her early 40s and has never been the same since. Medical records list “schizophrenia” as a result. Although I’ve been able to piece together stories from her life, there are many gaps. There are missing pieces.
And the main one is: Has Georgia ever made the decision to follow Christ?
I don’t know.
Georgia doesn’t seem to know.
But God does.
The Lord – the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient One – knows every detail of Georgia’s life. He alone knows the condition of her heart. Of anyone’s heart, for that matter.
Last week when Georgia was much more alert and responsive, I told her repeatedly, “God loves you so much. He’s always loved you. Do you believe that?” But, today, she sleeps. I say it anyway.
God brought me this beautiful gift of Georgia, but sometimes I feel I’ve failed Him. Failed her. I want more than anything for her to become a Christian. To be set free from the fear that has kept her bound for many, many years.
But I know it’s not my job to rescue Georgia. It never was. No, my only responsibility is to love her. To laugh with her. To care for her. To sit by her bedside while her sick body slowly deteriorates. To hold her weak, frail hand while she sleeps.
While she still breathes in. While she still breathes out.