An aged abbess who has ruled her monastery for over thirty years reaches her culmination. She has had a massive stroke that has left her able to pronounce only one word, “Tell…” and she is unaccountably lingering as she repeats it. Keeping a death watch for three exhaustive nights, her nuns are tired, but their concern is only for her. “What could she need to say? Why can’t Mother die?” they ask among themselves. “She can’t be afraid. No true nun fears death.” And yet the abbess remains, repeating the word, “Tell…”

She has more to say, and it is important. Eventually, “tell…” gives way to what sounds like, “Sorry…”

Finally, one of her daughters rises from her knees and tells her, “No matter what it is, we will deal with it. Dear Mother, lay it down.”

The abbess, raising grateful eyes, breathes her last.

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