Friday, December 25, 2015

The true meaning...

Christmas eve is always an interesting time at our house.  We eat soup and then get ready for the service.  After everyone is ready and dressed, we take the family picture.  It takes quite a while to get a decent picture and then we leave for church.

Christmas eve at our church is a great night.  I think this is our 24th year of sitting in a pew on Christmas eve.  It is a wonderful family tradition.

Last night, my mind was on my sweet patient that was close...the angels were coming and it was just a matter of when.  I had spent the day getting her family ready for the transition and helping them with the feelings that they were feeling and the ones to come.

We sat in the same place we always sit at church and watch the crowds come in.  The church was beautiful as always and I was feeling hopeful for the new year and tender for this family.  As the service continued and the songs were sung, I couldn't get my mind off of this family...wondering how she was doing, wondering if they were sitting with her holding her hand on this last christmas eve.  After communion, and the end of the service was near, I had decided that if I didn't hear from them, I was going to call them and check in.  The church had begun lighting the candles for the last song and I watched my candle flicker as they dimmed the lights.  I was listening to the multitude sing "Silent Night" and staring at the blue and yellow of my candle and thinking about how life is so difficult  and yet so good in so many ways.  Just as we started the second verse, I felt my pocket vibrate and knew.  I pulled my phone out of my pocket and saw that familiar number.  As the lights were low and the church sung...I walked into the office and called the number to hear what I knew had happened.  Through a voice muffled by tears, I heard the words, "Terry, she's gone."

As always, regardless of how ready you are, it feels like the world has shifted on it's axis and honestly, for this family...it has.

I arrived to find the windows open and the fire roaring.  The snow was gently falling and the peace in the house was deafening.  They were tired, relieved and so proud of how they cared for her and even as we did all the things we do after a person dies, they continued to feel comfort in the love they gave her.  The husband told me of sitting with her and being there holding her hand until she took her last quiet, peaceful breath.  He took comfort in her comfort and peaceful face and she slept and finally left this earth.  

After we had finished, we sat by the fire and talked.  We looked at pictures and they told me stories of this amazing lady.  It's so interesting to listen to the love of a family at this time and the things that meant so much to them and what they are going to miss.

It was after midnight when I finally left and I hugged them so hard that I thought they would break.  I was so proud of how they loved her, cared for her and spent every minute making her comfortable and know that she is and was very loved.  

I drove on the deserted, snow covered roads home with some instrumental Christmas music playing on the radio.  I thought of this week and the journey that I got to be a part of.  I shed a few tears as I thought of the future for this family and the pain that accompanies loss.  Then,  I thought of my family and hoped that they had opened that one present that we do on Christmas eve and that they had a nice time.  

I walked in the kitchen and the lights were on.  Then, I heard , "Mom, is that you?" and saw my boys walking up the stairs from the basement.  "We waited up for you just to make sure you were good, " they said, and sat and talked to me for about an hour.  I went to bed with a peaceful and full heart.  It had been a wonderfully holy and difficult Christmas eve.  It had also been a blessing and honor to be part of such a intimate and special time with this family.  And then, to come home to a family of my own who understands my work, honors it and cares for me.

Life is such a difficult, messy and heartbreaking  journey.  But, it's also such a rich and holy journey with such intense love and loss that it makes you want to cherish every moment there is.

Tonight, I say...love your loves, tell them so, kiss them and feel the softness of the kiss. Then you know that when you can do that, you have felt the true meaning of Christmas...and life. 

Merry Christmas,
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you,


Ms. Moon said...

Yes ma'am. Exactly. And you know- as the Bible says- As you sow, so shall ye reap.
This is often said in a negative sense. If you've been a mean motherfucker, then you'll be treated like what you deserve.
BUT, the opposite is just as true.
If we are tender in our loving, if we are giving in our lives, if we are understanding and supportive of that which we may not truly understand but that which we understand is important to someone we love- we shall be given love in return.
Thank you for being part of my life for so many years. I could not be more proud of you if I had given birth to you myself. I could not love you more if had been my blood sister.
Merry Christmas, dear woman. The world is a much better place with you in it.
Always and forever...Mary

jeannine nye said...

what a sweet post about such a difficult subject... but her passing with her family around her was the best she could have had, and given to few I think.. Given that your attention in her last days was full on and so valued, I am sure you have had a huge impact on that little family's appreciation of dying. It is a hard subject and one that is not spoken about much, but as we get older and there are more years behind us than in front, it is a subject that starts to make one think deeply how best to address the inevitable. We will all have to die, but the dying in comfort and love is what one aims for, and your impact has let that lady do just that.. Thank you again for sharing.. despite taking a toll on you, you have the deep love of your own family to shore you up against despair... I am sending you love, hugs and wishes that next year will be full of happiness within your family, and the strength for you to continue in your work... regards, J