Monday, September 30, 2013
Some of our hospice patients have a long time to wrap their minds around the idea of death and make peace with it. Others thought they were in good health a month ago and will be dead at the end of the week. And way too many of those are younger than I am, younger even than my little sister. One in particular stands out in my memory. Christy was tougher than her name suggested and she did not want a chaplain visit. The nurses told me that she and her Significant Other fought all the time, although they did not fight in front of me. He was frustrated and she was angry. She had been healthy and fit until very recently, and now she was bald and misshapen and unable to stand or walk without assistance. She declined quickly and one day her boyfriend told me to come over to the house, “and we'll see what she will do.” Christy was wary when I walked in and simply said, “so you're the chaplain.” I told her I was, and that it was my job to be whatever support I could to her. I told her that this whole disease process sucked, and that I wasn't there to defend God or shove him down her throat. I was simply there to be someone she could talk to, or not, and happy to do anything else she could think of that might be helpful. Christy smiled and said, “I like you,” and I knew that I'd been given a gift. Later I wondered how often I do not fully appreciate similar gifts, gifts of acceptance or recognition or even friendship, simply because they are offered by people who are not dying.