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Saturday, November 9, 2013

The days go by...

I had planned on sleeping in this morning...no patients to go visit early, no plans until noon.  But, as usual, the other occupants in my house had plans and they weren't conducive to staying in bed.  So, I got up.

Sometimes, actually most of the time, sleep offers me an escape from what I am thinking about.  I can run from my worries, my hopes and dreams and failures.

Because the holidays are coming upon us, things get busy for me. People want to be home during the holidays, they want to be feeling better and I am not sure why, but they decide they are ready to change the focus of life from cure to comfort and family time.

The days last week were long and unsure as I worked with a family to control symptoms, understand things are happening and helping them understand the situation.  The daily visits were filled with tears and "whys" and "what if we did things differently"...the general wishes of a family who doesn't want their loved one to be leaving them.  I found myself praying as I drove...for the right words, for the patience to listen, for the family to find comfort and peace with the rest of the precious time.  

There are weeks when I cannot understand what else there is to do other than sit at the kitchen counter, drink coffee and listen.  I feel as though I have said it all and to repeat those directions...it just doesn't seem like the right thing to do.  Many times, I write it all down on a piece of computer paper...how to give medications, what to check for, what do when things happen, and at the bottom, I leave my cell and home number and tell them to call me. As ineffective as that seems...that is all I have for a family that is hurting so much that they can't think.  This was a week like that...

Last night, I went home and sat on my couch...didn't say much, but just sat and thought.  I thought about this family, about hearing the stories over coffee, about the good days and the bad days and how I wish for clarity as this family negotiates what is turning into the new normal.

My husband asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner and I jumped at the offer...I felt way too emotionally exhausted to cook and the thought of a margarita sounded like heaven.  As we drove to the restaurant, he asked me about my week and I felt the tears spring to my eyes...some weeks, doing this kind of work is so hard.  As meaningful and special as it is, some weeks, I feel woefully unprepared to be so intimately connected to families at such a difficult time in their lives...and even though I am doing so much to help and comfort them...it isn't enough.

Jim and I sat and made small talk...me trying to talk about something other than death, dying and the kids.  They brought out my giant margarita and I took my sip.  It was what I think they are going to taste like in heaven.  I thought of my patient and family and was hoping they were having a relaxing time together as well.  
It was a nice moment in time and I was happy to have it.

A few minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was one of my co-workers.  She called me to tell me that she just left that family's home and they had the sweetest time together.  They had just done a video and spent three hours reminiscing about the beautiful, messy, perfect yet imperfect life that they all built together.  She said there were tears and belly laughs and time spent in the bedroom, all close, all talking and all remembering what they have. Once again, tears sprang to my eyes as I listened to this co-angel-worker that took time on her Friday night to help them take another step in the journey.  

I hung up with her, apologized to my husband for being rude and then told him to story...

I am convinced that one day we will all be in the shoes of that family, or we have been once and may have to be again.  I know it will be hard, it is hard and we all get through it in our own way. But, as I always say...if we, any of us, can make that journey a little easier, a little less harsh, then we have made a difference to another person.  

That, my friends is what life is about...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry