Working only weekends at the nursing home, I would often come in early to visit Isle. Amused by her unique name, pronounced “I sell”, I soon found myself quite fascinated with her in general.
Emaciated by a long bout with cancer and wracked with chronic pain, the miniature framed woman was much mightier than anyone would have ever guessed. At eighty-something, she had been married once and had raised a beautiful, supportive and loving family. Of course, those of us who got to know Isle, understood why she was loved so much.
In only a few short weeks, Isle’s courage and faith in God made a permanent impact on my life.
Isle knew that she was dying, but a part of her that never died, even as she drew her last breath, was her faith in a just and loving God. The reward of that faith presented itself in a most unusual way.
One night two nurses aides and I took turns sitting with Isle. Her breathing laborious and her heart beating only three to four times a minute, she drifted in and out of consciousness. As she lay there, the three of us decided to read her bible passages and sing her hymns as a group.
Isle had always taken the time to tell others how much God loved them. At every opportunity she had given glory to his name. She had so often spoken of God to us that we wanted to comfort her with his words as she struggled between life and death.
We were waiting for her family to come in the middle of that same night when a very miraculous event took place.
Suddenly, out of her unconsciousness, Isle sat upright in her bed. Her eyes, now sparkling, stared straight ahead and a smile spread across her face.
“Can’t you see them?” She spoke, breaking the silence of our shock. “Aren’t they beautiful?” She continued, telling us of the glorious garden of flowers that only she was seeing. While reaching out as if picking them. she told us that she could see her husband and others waiting for her.
Covered in goose bumps, I listened in awe. At the time, there was no doubt in my mind that Isle was seeing the great kingdom of Heaven.
Then, as quickly as she had sat up, Isle laid back down in the bed. With soft tears on her face, she said, “It is so beautiful and they are waiting, but I can’t go yet. Soon though, very soon.”
Her frail hand patted my own. “Tell them not to be sad when I go. I’ve lived a beautiful life. I had a wonderful husband and precious children. It’s almost time for me to be with him again. I’m looking so forward to it.”
During the weeks prior to Isle’s vision, one of her sons had not been able to visit her. We had speculated correctly that she was waiting on him to let go. He came the following day, along with her other children, grand children and great grand children.
As if nothing had ever happened, the fragile woman became fully animated, visiting with her family and telling them how much both she and God loved them.
That night, Isle slipped gently into a coma and she died a few days later. In her wake, she left a trail of seeds for God’s garden, and in his Heaven, I am sure that she is now reaping what she has sown.
Although I have had many wonderful patients under my care, Isle and her lessons of God’s love will always be and inspiration to me.