Great Lakes, troubled waters

Signs of distress

It's a little after 4 p.m. when I hear my name paged at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital. It's Lent 1971. I'm working as a student chaplain a few blocks west of Lake Michigan. Each day is a reminder that, even in the corridors of medicine's most prestigious cathedrals, death still reigns. A nurse from the intensive-care unit informs me that the parents of a six-week-old infant have telephoned to request that their daughter be baptized. She tells me that little Rebecca Ann, who was born with congenital abnormalities, has no more than a few hours to live. Due to bad weather and their own spiraling sense of helplessness, her parents have told the hospital that they will not be present.

 

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