An Account of Sr Elizabeth's death.
The death and Funeral of a loved Sister in Community is as you well know a precious time for us all, so it will not be easy for you to be away at a time like this. I write to share with you some details of our recent days and of the coming ones.
Last Sunday Sr Margaret asked me if I would like to go with her at 1 pm to spend some time with Sr. Elizabeth. Dorothy drove us there and my TM Card enabled us to return easily by taxi when we were ready. The only indication of awareness we have was the movements of Sister's eyelids, however her colour was good. She raised her head only when thickened fruit juice was offered her on a teaspoon. She opened her mouth slightly a number a times to receive from it but her intake was minute. Sr. Marguerite read out the short formula of Profession slowly, encouraging Sr. Elizabeth to give some indication of assent. We could not discern any reaction, however throughout our visit Sister's handgrip was strong.
The next day Sr. Maria Nive and I think Sr. Elena accompanied her, had what Dorothy would call a window experience. Sr. Elizabeth was able to communicate with them in some small ways, which was a great joy for them. After Reading that night the phone rang and word came that Sister looked clammy. Later in the afternoon Srs. Jane and Teresa Margaret went and replaced Sr. Mary of St. Joseph. They remained until 8.30 pm. We had worked out a tentative schedule in the afternoon and Sr. Marguerite graciously allowed me to remain the night so I went with her and Sr. Helena in Dorothy's car at 7 pm and gave them prime time with Sr. Elizabeth until the four Sisters all returned home with Dorothy at 8.30 pm Shortly before they left the nurses readjusted Sr. and she was lying on her back, without the foot guard to lift the blankets above her feet. Her head was raised but her breathing was laboured and her dear face had lost its fullness and colour, To see her brought to mind the dying Lord Jesus.
Sr. Elizabeth's bed had been placed lengthwise beside the window which gave more space in the room, although it needed to be moved out to allow a second nurse to move in beside the window when they needed to attend her. There was a big Lazy-boy chair just inside the door ready for the night watcher but I sat near her on an ordinary seat and prayed aloud, quietly there for some time until I noticed her breathing growing slower and more laboured. Her beautiful eyes, which had been almost closed now gradually opened and looked, glazed upwards but as it were without seeing, nor any movement of her eyelids. In case she may have been able to see I held her Profession Crucifix up above her head in the line of vision and was repeating softly the Taize chant: Jesus, remember me, when you come into Your Kingdom. Then Sister slowly closed her eyes, even tightly as though in a moment of pain with her forehead slightly furrowed and her last breath came as a tiny gasp, then she lay still, her forehead smooth and her eyes peacefully closed. There was no more indication of movement, I waited and prayed a short while before pressing the call button, then looked at the time, it was about 9.40 pm. A nurse came soon and checked for pulse then said she would get another nurse. When they both came I asked to go and phone the Monastery, and did so from the main lounge just inside the main entrance. Sr. Maria Nive answered on the second ring and got Sr. Marguerite to whom I gave the news that Sister was now in peace with the Lord. It was a very sacred time to be with her and one could only know a very quiet joy that now her labours were ended and be thankful to God for her loving fidelity and her long generous living out of her vocation. The nurses were wonderful and Sister looked very peaceful after they had laid her out. One of them who lives in Campbell Road said that she could drive me her when she came off duty at 11pm, if I was able to wait. It was not yet 10 pm and I had already arranged with Sr. Marguerite that I would go home by taxi and that the gate would be opened. Nothing more physically, could be done for Sister until a doctor would see her after 9 am.
Click here to read her life story.