In front of the camera, the woman smiles calmly. The dimple on her right cheek, among the wrinkles, shows that Annie has repeated this smile many times in her 81 years of life. Today, however, only her lips are smiling. A strange tension weighs on her eyebrows. Today is the day Annie has decided to die.
One night while checking on his patients in a palliative care centre, the therapist risked asking a confusing question to a person whose universe had shrunk to the size of his sickbed: “What brought you joy today?” The answer was immediate: “Being alive.”
When it was close, when I first saw its truly hideous face, I realised that I would never get used to it. And, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much hope I tried to gather, I found nothing bright or inspiring about death. I know I will never find such a brightness, because it doesn't exist. But I saw the light that it left behind it, and no matter how pale this light is, I consider it a miracle, and one of the most powerful forces that unites and transforms lives.
For many years, Dr Jonathan Ward was a military chaplain. When I talked to Dr Ward about his long career, we touched upon some sensitive topics: Does the presence of a Christian chaplain in the military mean God’s approval of military operations? How does a military chaplain serve in the context of a conflict?