The Call

Prep School Classroom“Call my cell ASAP,” the text message said.

I looked from my phone to the room of 7th grade students reviewing Pentecost in partners.

“Guys, I have to step outside for a minute.  I think I might have a family emergency.”

As I closed the door behind me, I heard Luke say, “Everybody!  We have to say a prayer for Miss Sloan!  She has a family emergency!”

I called Dad, and my suspicions were confirmed.  “Grandpa has begun the process of actively dying.  He has one to three days left.  Come home as soon as you can.”

I hung up the phone and walked back into the classroom.

“Is everything okay, Miss Sloan?” Tim asked, concerned.

“Not really, it looks like my grandpa is passing away.  I have to go home for a few days.”

There was a chorus of ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘We’ll pray for him.’  I tried to continue with the lesson, but they wanted to know more about my grandpa.  So we put the book down to do some real learning, together.

“Are you sad?”

“I am sad, because I really love him.  But it’s a joyful thing too.”

“How can it be joyful?  He’s dying.”

“You know how moms cry when a baby is born?”

Chorus of nods.

“It’s kind of like that.  Because death is like preparing to go on a journey to new life with God.  I get to help him prepare for his journey to heaven.  And there he won’t die anymore.”

At this point a very sincere girl furrowed her brow and raised her hand.  “So there’s like…actually….no death?”

“Nope.  There’s no death.”

“Oh,” she said quietly.

Twenty-four hours later, as I sat at the foot of my grandfather’s bed and watched him draw his final breaths, I remembered that conversation.

Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Beautiful stuff my friend.

  • Blair Mancini

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.  You’re in my prayers, my friend 🙂

  • Jane

    Thanks, B.  You too!

  • Jane

    Thanks, Kyle!

  • Hillary Simpson

    Beautiful, Jane. Sending you love and prayers.

  • Michelle

    Thank you for writing and sharing this, Jane. What a wonderful message for your students to learn from their teacher, too.

  • Tjfische

    We all have a finite number of days on this earth. It is just so much more apparent when you can count them. A moment to teach is a moment to understand. Uncle Tom

  • Jane

    Thanks, Michelle.  I have been teaching only five years but feel as though the truest moments of learning are times like these.  I am blessed to share them with young people!

  • Jane

    Thanks Tjfische.  One of my professors once spoke of two kinds of time, ‘chronos’ (regular old time) and ‘kairos’ (moments of deep significance that, because of their importance seem ‘longer’).  This was a ‘kairos’ kind of moment.

  • Jane

    Thanks Hillary!

  • Katherine

    I wish every child could have you has her teacher xo