Over the weekend, I was lamenting to my husband how I don't make much money. We are looking at the second of three heading to college in the fall and if I had chosen a different profession, I would be able to contribute more to the kids college fund. Like his usual self, he started to tell me how different my job is and how that is better than money. "No one ever runs into me in the grocery store and tells me how blessed they were that I took care of their father/brother/mother/etc." That is very true. Since I live and work in a small town, I will see folks that I met in the most difficult time of their lives and helped. I know, I know. "Remember at the cross country meet when I met one of your patient's wife and she went on and on about how you made such a difference in her life? Remember? There isn't enough money in the world for that kind of reward." I thought about it for a minute and realized he was right...my job is full of rewards that have nothing to do with money. But...
The weekend was over and I went to see one of my folks. The patient is in bed, comfortable and dying. The family has been devastated from the moment of diagnosis, through the treatment and finally to the decision to go to "comfort care." I have been with this family through the last of the treatment and am with them now. He is in a hospital bed in the main area of the house, where the family is with him as they wish. He is comfortable, not alone and sleeping most of the time. It is obvious that this family is devastated but also in some ways ready. The patient seems ready. Now it is up to the angels.
As I sat on the couch with my feet under me like I belonged, I asked how they were doing. "How are you guys and what else can I do to help you?" They responded that they are okay...terribly sad but okay...and they are so glad to be home which is where he wanted to be. They also felt like he was so peaceful and comfortable and that is what they and he wanted. I went into my "nurse-mode" and explained all the medications and what to do and give when. Then we began to talk about what the end will probably look like. They wanted to know but sometimes you want to know but you don't.
It's one of those things. When you get lucky enough to marry someone you truly like and love, raise kids and build a life...a really good one, it hurts to see them fight for life, to hurt and then to be peaceful but knowing your moments are numbered with them. It's the best and the worst of a life well lived.
It was time to go and let the family be. I hugged them all harder than I should have but wanted them to know I get it. It's hard but it's what they want to do...
to care for their loved one at home and be there until the end. I honor them and wish them peace tonight as they spend the last minutes and hours.
So today I got to be a part of the best and the worst of life. The best being a love so deep and long that you will do whatever it takes to make the transition to heaven what the person wanted. The worst...watching that person leave you a moment at a time, albiet peacefully and comfortably...but never to hold you or look into your eyes again...here anyway. It's wonderful and sad at the same time.
Once again, I hope to have the strength to be like this family...to honor and love until the very end and then some.
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,