Monday, September 19, 2011

I wish I had the answers

Tonight my heart is heavy. It seems that the older I get, the less I understand about life, or at least the end of life.

Three families are struggling with this on a personal level.

The first is my friend, my volunteer, someones mother, grandmother, great grandmother, someone who touched every single life she came into contact with, someone who found the good, truly, in everyone she met, someone who took the time every day to check on you, to listen, to care, to pat your hand, to offer an encouraging word, and most importantly a prayer.

She came to us as a volunteer, someone who had suffered some serious losses, received some devastating diagnoses, but was determined to make a difference in others' lives through volunteer work. She came without fail, drove a long way, and rarely showed up empty handed. She was always taking care of someone and would bring what they needed to make their day better. She was as kind and gentle to our rather unlovable guests as she was to everyone else.

I went into Sam's tonight to buy some things for work. A flood of memories came back as I recalled her helping set up for our programs and treating everyone as if they were a guest in her home. She would ooh and aah over whatever I bought and make me think I had chosen just the most perfect combination for a virtual feast, even if it was just cheese and crackers. She brought plenty of her own goodies and loved to share

She developed a cold accompanied by a cough, that just did not want to go away.

Out of concern we urged her to the doctor, sure that just the right medicine would take care of it quickly and she would be right back. Only it wasn't a cold, it was something so much worse. Something that would come with nothing but bad news, and only get worse.

I am so grateful there are angels here on earth, serving as palliative care nurses, hospice workers, so they can be there, when the rest of us fail. They are not afraid to help, to be there, to make that passage as peaceful and painless as possible. The rest of us freeze and become immobile, dreading the phone call they know will come.

Another family is dealing with the loss, which is still so raw, the future seems unbearable to imagine, to see life without this essential person, who was here just moments ago, who seemed to have beat the illness, but succumbed in the blink of an eye, gone, forever. No more time to wonder what's next, what does the future hold, who will I become? There is no more time. The only thing left is the family, struggling, wishing there would be a way to make it make sense, but there is no sense to be found.

The third family is suffering from what a man from church used to call, suffering from the longevity of life. He would pray every time for those suffering. I finally looked up longevity because I wasn't sure if it was catching. I did not know anyone who had this dread disease but of course, in my lifetime, now I have lost count of how many.

On my way out of the grocery store, late the other night, I caught a glimpse of a couple I have known for quite a while. When I saw them I had to do a double take, probably a triple. I was shocked at their gaunt, bent over appearance, struggling to maneuver even the short walk into the store. I had lost track of them several years ago and really guessed that I had missed them in the obituaries because their health was so poor and complicated, it seemed the end was imminent. But no, instead, they are still struggling, trying to achieve the most simple thing like a trip to the grocery store.

I thought writing it out would help me understand better. I really have even fewer answers. I know the only thing I have to offer are prayers I'm sure they would appreciate yours too.

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