I work in a Nursing Center in Florida. Last night I had the opportunity to visit briefly with a woman and her mother, who was nearing death.

The frail little soul in the bed was barely breathing and semiconscious. She looked like a porcelain doll as she lay there sleeping. Her daughter sat silently beside her, holding her hand.

I’d like to remember them as Opal and Pearl, both precious and similar; yet different at the same time. Pearl, the mother, was probably a gentle but firm parent. I am guessing that she earned a confidence and trust in her that was rare. Solid like a pearl found in the ocean by a fisherman who was confident that the shell in his hand held a precious treasure. I felt certain that she was a fighter and a hard worker that seldom gave up on a given task.

Opal sat beside her mother, respectful, obedient and patient as if waiting for further instructions. She resembled her Mom, but with more color and iridescence. The love she felt for her mother was evident by the look of reverence on her face.

I asked Opal if she was okay. Sure she was! After all her mother was only on the doorstep of death, why wouldn’t she be fine? I wanted to say so much to her, but couldn’t find the right words. I told her that I had just gone through this with my husband and I knew how she felt. Then I faded out of the room, leaving her there all alone. Shame on me!

I wanted to talk to Pearl, but I didn’t want to intrude in their last moments together. I wanted to stroke her brow and her cheek, telling her it was going to be okay. I wanted to reassure her that God was watching over her, ready to give her peace and free her from the anguish and pain.

I wanted to encourage Opal to talk to her Mom as if they were having a two-way conversation. I wanted to nudge her into telling her Mom why she loved her. without making her feel self-conscious. I firmly believe that no matter how unresponsive a person seems to be, they can still hear what is said to them and can feel a touch.

I wanted to share with her my experience with my husband just before he died. How much comfort it gave me to be there with him, holding him when he drew that last breath. I wanted to tell her how dear it was to me to talk to him and feel positive that he heard every word and took them with him.

I’m new to this job, however, and didn’t want to overstep my bounds. I was afraid that Opal would see it as intruding. The last thing I wanted to do was make her uncomfortable. I wanted to enhance her Mom’s passing, not harm it. I figured the best thing was for me to offer a couple of words of comfort and retreat. That’s what I did.

Why doesn’t God give us an instruction booklet about life and death? Why is it that we are so afraid to talk to a sick person about dying? They know they are dying and we know they are dying, so why can’t we share our thoughts, feelings and fears? I thank God every day that I was able to do that with my husband. I just haven’t yet discovered how to tell others of the wonderful peace that I achieved through our slightly one-sided conversations.

Perhaps one day you will be in a position of sitting beside a friend or relative that is on deaths’ doorstep. Don’t hesitate to talk to him or her about it. Trust me, it will be an experience that you will never forget. I think that I can say with some authority that the other person will also appreciate your candor. They lay in bed or sit in the silence of their room hour after hour all alone. You can’t think for a second that they don’t wonder about it.

Why not give them the opportunity to tell you what their last thoughts and memories are? What a precious gift you could give to each other.