My boys came bounding up the stairs from baseball practice and were looking for dinner. I had gotten home early enough tonight to make tacos and set the table. My youngest looked around, checked out the situation and headed to the table. "Did you wash your hands?" I asked. He wandered over to the kitchen sink and washed them. My oldest son was already at the table stirring his chocolate milk and looking at the food. We stopped, folded our hands and prayed our dinner prayer. Then we started to dish out our dinner. I began my litany of questions about their days and lives..."how was baseball practice, did you learn anything in school today" and, to my oldest, "what are you doing for prom?" They took turns talking and answering...baseball practice was good, they liked BP with the colored balls, school was good and yes, was just trying to figure out about the prom. The boys were bantering back and forth and avoidiing the nightly question, "do you have homework?" when my oldest said, " How was your day today, Mom?" I answered quickly that it was good and about how it had to be better than yesterday. My son agreed and said, "you had quite a day yesterday, didn't you...possibly your hardest day in a long time."
Yesterday was a hard day. A strong man and what turned out to be a person I wish had know much longer was living his last hours. He was being lovingly cared for by his soul mate, obviously the love of his life, and his time was approaching quickly. While we all knew it, I think his family and I were hoping we would wake up from this bad dream and get on with the life they had before cancer. I went to visit during the day and we talked about what to do when it was time and how to handle anything that went on. His wife and son were remarkable and so strong. I left the house praying for more time and a gentle passing.
I then drove to my church to gather tables for a celebration of life for a 13 year old boy who left his family and the community way too soon. He died tragically last week and stunned us all. The memorial was at 4 but by 3, the seating was full. It was a lovely service (as these things go) but I stood by the wall as I listened wishing that he was still here. I know the whole group felt the same. I prayed for comfort for his parents and sisters, and for a sign of him at the service.
When it was over, I walked to my car and looked at my cell phone. The familiar number was presented and I texted back. Time to go and be with my patient...he had passed away.
I pulled in the driveway and walked in the door. Our hero had passed as he had lived...with integrity, love for his family and a humbleness and strength that I wish for when it is my time. I slowly did the things we do when a person dies, loved up the family, tried to keep the tears in and said my goodbyes.
When I got in the car, I sat in the dark for a long time. I felt sad, mad and exhausted from the emotion. I pulled myself together and pulled out on the highway. As I started to drive towards home, I realized that I didn't have any idea what my family was doing. I picked up the phone and dialed. My oldest answered the phone and asked where I was...I began to tell him I had to work late and sobbed into the phone that I would be home soon. "What's wrong, Mom?" he asked...I told him I just lost a patient and was sad. "I'm so sorry Mom...we're fine here" he answered.
I walked into the door and my husband ran down the stairs and grabbed me...I sobbed into his arms telling him it was a hard day...such a hard day. I headed upstairs, brushed my teeth and went to bed.
I woke up today to a beautiful view of Pikes Peak and sunshine. When I went to bed last night, I wondered if a new day would come...but it did. I thought of my patient's wife and kids and the parents of our "good" boy gone too soon and wished them the strength to climb out of bed today. On days like yesterday, getting up the next day is usually difficult. I couldn't imagine the sorrow they are feeling...
I was thinking about what I would change to protect my heart and came to the conclusion that I wouldn't change a thing. I fall in love with these folks, these families and become attached to them... and they let me into the most tender time in their lives. You don't let a stranger in at those times...at least I wouldn't.
So I ask, how was your day? Did you live it like it might be your last? Are you satisfied with who you are and the relationship that you have with your spouse and family? Would you stay for however long it took to honor your spouses wishes? Are you proud of who you are in front of your kids? I can say that my answers were 50/50 and I need to do better. I can also say that it can be done...it can.
It was done yesterday. I watched relationships and enduring love through seering pain, a community that gathered to infuse strength to the hurting, and how things are supposed to go when another needs us.
So I ask again, how was your day? I hope you had a day to remember, whether it was the day you planned or not...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,