I prayed for you. I know you didn’t want me to. I know you didn’t ask me too. I know you don’t believe in the power of prayer. I know you don’t believe in God. I know you don’t believe in an afterlife. But still, I prayed for you.

Catherine (Cathy) Irvine (nee Lowery) Feb 14, 1968 – November 16, 2016

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in God. I believe in the afterlife. I believe in the Collective Conscious. And so, I prayed for you.

We talked, only a few days ago, when the end was in sight. You said you cry a lot. You said you are afraid. “Of what?” I asked. You replied, “I don’t know what the end really means,” and you were scared. I can’t imagine at age 48, not being afraid of the end. Even if it does relieve you of the pain. Even if it does relieve you of the illness. Even if if means you will no longer be in hospital. Even if it means you will be free from a body that was a prison. Of course you would be afraid. I would be afraid too.

No one will say you lived a long life. No one will say you lived a good life. No one will be surprised by your decision to refuse all medical treatment. No one will talk you out of it. No one would want to be in your shoes. No one would want to make your decisions.

“No one has been to the other side and come back to tell us what it’s like” you said to me, through tears of sadness and fear. “I know. That’s just where faith comes in. You just decide to believe. In the end, when all is said and done, who cares if you were right or wrong about it?” You switch from tears to chuckles at that explanation.

I tell you how glad I am that you made up with your parents, that you invited them into your life and that they were there to care for you. But more importantly, that you healed from the pain of the past and your parents were given a second chance to ‘make right’ and care for you, like a do-over. You tell me you are at peace.

“I want to have a heart attack. Quick and easy,” you say. “The pallative care nurse went through a checkist of all the ways I can die, given my health complications. I said check to the heart attack, but strike off ketoacidosis. That hurts too much.” As you start laughing, I jokingly tell you I will pray that you get what you want and drop dead of a heart attack. I said “I’ve never wished for someone’s death. Do you think I’ll be stricken down by a bolt of lightening or something?” and we both laugh hysterically. We know it is goodbye, possibly the last time we might speak. I tell you I don’t know what to say or what to do. “Do you think I do?” you laughingly chide me.

“But seriously, what about God and making some peace with that idea and concept. Many people turn to God at times like this. There isn’t an agnostic parent alive, that given a solemn prognosis for their child, didn’t take a moment to pray for their child. The idea that they would do anything, even praying ‘just-in-case’ it can make a difference.” You tell me about the Minister, the non-denominational one that you hope will come to your home next week. “I hope I don’t burst into flames in her presence. That would be a painful death,” you say, laughing again hysterically. I told you to be open to the process and open to the possibility. “This might give you strength and peace, and remove some of the fear,” I explain. “Okay, I’ll try” you respond. I know the concept of a loving God is very comforting to me, and I wish that for you my friend. But I know you’re mostly just placating me. “Well it won’t hurt, and who cares when all is said and done, if you were wrong,” I counter.

I tell her I can’t say goodbye. I hope to talk to her tomorrow, but we both realize, this might be our last conversation. We reminisce over our twenty plus year history together. I tease her about her long perms, pastel socks and cheap dollar store running shoes. We laugh about the different fads, styles, hair dos and colours we have experienced with each other. I tell her I love her, that she has enhanced my life for my knowing her, and I thank her for all she has been and done for me through the years. She was always a pillar of strength and support for me. I tell her again, I love her and I will pray for her and instead of saying goodbye, we say “I’ll speak to you later.”

This was not our last conversation, but rather one of the last few over that week. Once she made the decision to stop all medical intervention and go home, she declined rapidly. As far as I know, the Minister did not make it before she went unconscious. It was really only a little over a week once she was released from the hospital that she passed away. But I told Cathy that I would pray for her. And in the end, she didn’t get what she wanted. She didn’t die of a heart attack, but rather, she went into ketoacidosis. Once she fell into  unconsciousness, she was no longer in pain and she passed away within two days.

I believe in God. I believe in an afterlife. I believe in the Collective Conscious. I believe in the power of prayer. And so I prayed for Cathy. She is forever with me, and forever in my heart. I know she is among those that are my angels, that join me everyday on my job and keep me safe. And all I can say, as she looks down from above is “I told you so.”

My you rest in peace my friend.

4 thoughts on “I prayed for you

  1. A very moving story, very well written.
    You really touched me for two reasons: The first one is that I see myself in your friend. My health is ok, but when it comes to faith, I’m pretty much the same as Cathy. The secons reason is that I wished I had the courage to talk as freely and openly with the persons I’ve seen passing away as you did with your friend. And being agnostic doesn’t help here, because in my world, I will never get another chance to speak out the yet unspoken.


    1. Andreina,
      Thanks for your open and honest sharing. The one thing I learned through this experience is that there is no right or wrong in situations such as these. I just made sure I would not have any regrets, and that guided my process. In AA we make amends – but sometimes the people have passed on. We still do the process, in different and creative ways. It’s for ourselves, for closure, and it is very healing for most. Then we go and practice ‘living amends’ in all our affairs. Think about saying the “yet unspoken” for you, for resolution, in a creative and healing manner. It might well be worth doing it ‘just-in-case.’


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