Can anyone believe that it is soon to be July 1? I moved to Florida in July, 2010 so one year later, here I am. Sallyanna, this post is for you!
If you read here much, you know that I love what I do. Today, reminded me of why I love it so much. I spent time with a family early in the day. It was a family that I met when mom came to us 12 days ago. She had stopped dialysis and was ready to die. She was 80+ years old and was very tired of pain and prodding and chemo and dialysis and wanted to just let go of the fight. I can't imagine really what it is like to have to one day just say, no more. But she had done that with grace.
I remember when she came in that she had the sweetest smile and a gentle spirit. She claimed that she came to die. She wanted no fanfare. Her sons were with her - one from Indiana. They were faithful in being there each day, laughing and crying, telling stories and beginning to grieve the anticipated loss. I spent time with them on a few occasions. Today, was the day she was going to die. And she did. She waited until one son left to take another son to the airport to fly back to Indiana. Her oldest son was in the room, with 2 daughter-in-laws. She knew that her oldest son could be there with strength and she knew the other sons would fall apart. So with the right people in the room and the right people out of the room, her breathing slowed, she opened her eyes, she had tears come down her cheeks, and then she smiled so much you could see her teeth, and then she died.
The family that was present witnessed a beautiful scene that they will not forget - a scene that brought them great comfort. We opened the window and let her spirit soar. Amazing stuff.
The second thing that happened today was - I received some poetry from a woman that I had spent alot of time with while a loved one died. It was a situation that felt foreign to me. The woman was married to someone else, and she also loved and lived with this patient. 2 men, 1 woman. Not as three really, but a woman being shared by two men. Do I understand that? No. But I listened to her story and to the pain of her life living out this relationship and the difficulty in being a widow with a husband. (Think about that!) The poetry that she shared with me was beautiful and rich and contemplative and necessary and important and brought some healing to her. I was privileged that she shared it with me.
The beauty of being a chaplain is I get to listen to all faith traditions, I get to listen to atheists, and polygamists, and broken souls. I get to walk with amazing people and stories and help them find forgiveness and meaning for their life. I see pain and joy every day and it is sacred space and holy ground.
One of my favorite sayings - I've heard it credited to a few different people - I don't know who said it, it wasn't me. "Be kind, for everyone is fighting some kind of battle." I think that is a good guide.