Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013. And So It Begins

I love this tree.    It's full of bumps and bruises, shows evidence of a variety of wrong turns, but keeps reaching upward.    I pass it on my way to work, and slow down to absorb its lessons.

This week I sat by the bed of a dying man.    I know, you say.   We've heard this story before.     But no, I think, it is different every time.

The family wanted the chaplain.   It was nothing personal, although it happens that the chaplain is me.    They called me back to work after I had gone home, made me change out of my jeans and sweats to return to this bedside.    They wanted the chaplain there, but I'm not sure they knew why.    They did not want to talk to me.    And they did not want to sit with this dying man.    I was not sure what they wanted, but I thought that maybe I was there as testament to fulfilled duty.   

With some patients I know what to do.   And I do it.   And that is good.    When there's nothing I can do to help, I look to see what there is for me to learn.    So I sat with this man and thought about what I would do, what I would feel, if he were mine.     I sat vigil until the family was ready to face the room again.    I don't know their story since they didn't want to talk; maybe they loved him deeply and were just worn out.    Maybe they were ready for this to be over, for him to die.    Or maybe I needed to be reminded that eventual loss is the inevitable result, whether or not I give myself room to grow, whether or not I try new things, whether or not I let someone into my life again.   

Such a cheerful mind I live in.    So I shook it off, went to the target range, and went to the indoor track and walked a mile.      This is still going to be the Best.  Year.  Ever.    I'm counting on it.


Phyllis said...

Hello and happy new year. I found you via Marlene's of Stitchin' by the Lake.

I've only read your list on the side and your two most recent posts, but you sound SOOOO much like my sister. I'm going to send her the link so she can visit you. I doubt she'll ever leave a comment though.

I like your sense of humor and honesty...and will visit again.


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Gail, you have an interesting perspective on something that most people don't know how to deal with or approach.

My girl friend recently told me that a dying friend asked her to come spend her final days with her and be with her when she passed. My friend was nervous and scared to do it because she didn't know what to expect or what to do for her dying friend.

I was thinking that you should write an e book on how to help people spend their final days with someone they love who is dying and what to do for them as they are preparing to pass. It wouldn't have to be a big book, maybe just a few chapters and you could sell it for a few dollars. Think about it.

Debbie said...

Interesting. The family called for someone for the dying man, and yet it was the family that needs the help. I wonder in the fullness of life if they showed him care and understanding. Your stories give me a mirror to view behaviors and keep mine in check.
You can make this the year you want.

Adrienne said...

Hi -
I'm stopping by to visit from Stitchin By The Lake. I can so identify with your words here. For nine years - until I retired a year ago - I was a chaplain in care centers, assisted living residences and retirement communities near my home. For a short time I served as a Hospice Chaplain. I was taken back to many times that I was called to sit with a dying person - many times to comfort the family as they waited. Often to 'do' something unknown. I'll be back again to read more and get acquainted.

Kaybe said...

You have a gift my friend. xo

Pamela said...

Visiting from Stitchin by the Lake... Well, I want to say Thank You on behalf of the family of the patient that was dying. My daddy died several years ago...alone. I didn't realize that was where we were or I would have stayed with him. It has bothered me so much that he was alone. So Much! So to you, I say Thank You!