Today was go-get-bled day. Among my many medications is a miracle drug that both keeps people like me alive and also kills vermin, and every month I have to give blood so my doctor can be certain it's not doing too much of a good thing. I make this necessity an outing, lunching in the hospital cafeteria (any meal I don't have to cook or clean up after is A Good Thing[tm]), buying my month's pills and potions in the lobby pharmacy, enjoying the air conditioning, hitting up the robot teller, and so on.
So I'm sitting in the hospital cafeteria, munching on my cod almondine and broccoli, when alarm squeals started blaring, and every 30 seconds for three or four minutes the loudspeaker repeated: "Code four, west facility, room 668. Code four, west facility, room 668 ...." One lady grabbed the sandwich off her tray and ran.
I've spent so much time in the hospital over the last few years that I used to have all the codes figured out, but I've forgotten just what a Code Four is --- but if the alarms are squealing and the loudspeakers are screaming it all over the complex, it definitely is Not A Good Thing[tm]. So I stopped munching broccoli, opened my hands, and began praying (silently, of course; this was a cafeteria): "Lord, have mercy on 668. Lord, give your grace to 668. Lord, have mercy on 668. Lord, comfort and care for 668 ...."
After the blaring stopped, and I returned to my cod and broccoli with cherries and Diet Dew, something dawned on me. I live alone. I have no kin less than a full day's drive away. I'm chronically ill with a disease that is incurable and fatal. Though I am doing all the things I need to do to collect on the "15 to 20 years of medically manageable symptoms", such as taking all my medicines, doing my physical therapy, using my oxygen, and so on, the fact is that I could easily be Called at any time. And the first notice of my passing, when my body finally stops working entirely, is very likely to be a blaring loudspeaker just like the one in the cafeteria this noontime, at some hospital or skilled nursing facility. I hope that when my time comes, and the loudspeakers start hollering about my room, that there is someone who takes pity on me and prays for me.
It's on that list of the Things Catholics Do, the Works of Mercy: Pray for both the living and the dead.