by Fr. Arnak Kasparian
One evening after supper, I received a call to visit a patient. Barkev, 47 years-old, had cancer. The doctors had sent him home from the hospital. They could not help him. Barkev was in his bedroom. For the last five days he had not eaten anything. He did not respond to any questions and seemed to be in a coma. In their three-bedroom duplex house, the entire family was there: his wife, his 21-year-old son, his mother, his brothers and their families. The house seemed to be filled with anxiety and apprehension.
I invited everybody to come into the bedroom. I burned some incense, did the house blessing, and asked all present to join me in singing the hymns, “Soorp Asdvadz,” “Amen Alleluia,” and “Hayr Mer.”
Barkev’s son was standing in the doorway; he could not came in and face his dying father. Barkev’s mother was sitting by the foot of the bed, moving back and forth in her grief. His wife was at the head of the bed, fixing the pillow to make her husband’s head comfortable.
For a long time, I have known that the last sense that a person loses is his hearing. So after the blessing was over, I addressed myself to Barkev and said, “Barkev, we are all hereyour wife, your son, your mother, your brothers and their familieswe all feel very bad for what has been happening to you. We are all going to die sometime. But somehow, I envy you. You are surrounded by your loved ones. I may end up in the corridor of a hospital behind a white curtain, all by myself.”
Just as I finished my sentence, tears came down Barkev’s cheeks. It was the first sign of life in five days. It stirred such an excitement and relief in the entire family. Barkev’s son came in, knelt by the bed kissing his father’s hand and sobbing. His wife leaned by the pillow, stroked her husband’s hair, and said, “Go in peace, darling.” I returned home. Two hours later I received a call. Barkev had died.