Posts Tagged ‘hospice’

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. (William Wordsworth)

A few dishes washed… laundry piled in the hall… dusting barely begun… I stand in our tiny hall and survey what else needs to be done. My guitar case is partially unzipped. I don’t bother to either open or close it. I haven’t played in weeks. No energy remains in this short body. I miss music. I miss classes at the Y, as well as the times with friends I needed to cancel.

Am I getting sick or has the adrenaline rush of the past few weeks ended and left me drained? Twenty minutes, that’s all. I’ll give myself a one-third-of-an-hour power nap. Jay can take short walks—by himself now. I should be able to take mini siestas. The nap extends. I’m even further behind.

All the while I want to call my friend, Henrietta. Her husband has been in hospice. The last time I talked to her he wasn’t doing well. I see my friend’s face in my imagination and I suspect the thought of her unconsciously has buoyed me through.

When I wake up the grogginess lingers. I prepare lunch on auto-pilot, but I can’t get Henrietta’s picture out of my mind, and I don’t want to. She has been caring for a husband who will never get better. I have been helping a spouse who has been looking forward to my homemade soups, digging into chicken with baked stuffing, and thanking me for being there. No comparison.

Finally, I’m tackling laundry when Jay says he is going for a walk around the block. Now, the time is now: I call Henrietta.

“I don’t know why I have been thinking about you a lot,” I begin. “I just had to get through to you. Don’t want to interrupt if you are busy…”

“I know why you needed to call,” Henrietta answers in her usual soft voice. She tells me her husband died yesterday. She believes an angel has been speaking to me.

What force, intuitive or divine, led my spirit? That answer is not mine to know, only to follow. Henrietta asks me to write my experience. Share it. Fill my paper, or this blog, with the breathings of my heart.

The fatigue settles. I begin to look forward to the next day with my grandchildren, a family birthday party, baking a pie for a friend, time to write.

The sun shines and a light breeze passes through. I grab both as if they could be stored and saved; I settle for savoring. The pain in my back eases. I realize I’m not as good at relaxation as I’d like to be. The ugliness of national news disturbs me. I can’t understand how respect is so difficult to comprehend and accept, in word, in deed. Respect is basic and has nothing to do with political agendas.

I breathe in and out—slowly. One heart that beats in steady rhythm allows life to exist; two hearts that beat with empathy can empower many. Life is precious, but it isn’t permanent.

At least not in this realm. I celebrate one day at a time. No more, no less. One precious day that can never be retrieved.


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You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Perhaps I have too much chaos within me because I feel crowded in water aerobics class—actually there are only about twelve participants. Not exactly a mob. But the instructor directs us to continuously travel back and forth. The possibility of bumping into someone seems high to me.

My energy feels almost electric. I’m more than busy at the moment with babysitting duties and preparing for a newly published book to appear. In the water that electricity seems dangerous even if it is only a metaphor. So I swim into the deeper water and tread through the moves. I love the feel of suspending. And I see another benefit: a tall friend is here today. She buoys me with her spirit.

She and I look as different as a mountain and a valley. I need to stand on a step stool to get sufficient pressure at the locker’s swimsuit spinner. At six-foot tall she is at the deeper end of the indoor pool, but doesn’t need to kick to stay afloat. I look up to her physically—and as a person.

This lady talks about her dedication to family with the same offhandedness a person would use when counting loads of laundry. She gives because the need is there. She is not aware of her own beauty.

As we talk I sense similar teen experiences. When adolescence hit I would have pronounced angst with an accent on every letter if sharing feelings had been permitted in my home. Since they were not, the not-good-enough notion imploded and almost destroyed my spirit. Changing that attitude has taken time and effort. But I don’t regret the past. Because of it I am less likely to judge someone else. I also have  a storehouse of great fictional characters, all based on a confused, normal young girl—me.

My friend shares a current difficulty she is facing. It sounds familiar. She has a family member in hospice. Cookie-cutter supportive care doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, it would be great if so-and-so would play the let’s-have-fun-while-we-can game. But, sometimes the individual wouldn’t have played when he or she was twenty-three.

Later, I see my giving friend helping someone else. Her gift delays her departure when I know she has other tasks to perform, a long agenda for the day. I would like to give more details about that moment, but don’t want to break this woman’s anonymity.

Instead, I simply shout-out thanks into the electronic universe and hope treading water with her has brought some positive energy into me. I am thinking about her now with the hope that my words serve as a mirror reflecting the goodness I see.

It is contagious, in a positive way.

garland of beautiful deeds


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It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. (Henry David Thoreau)

I wonder if my vision blurs sometimes and prevents me from seeing what I think I’m observing. When I searched the inside of my husband’s car for our youngest granddaughter’s glasses, I really did want to find them—immediately! Those prescription lenses were expensive. I found a red ball I would have sworn was in a bin with other toys, some old useless receipts, and a dusty cough drop. But I saw no sign of an orange case with purple swirls. My son ordered a new pair while the original copper wire-rims waited in a school bus, classroom, or limbo. Or so we thought.

Then, weeks later as I went to the car to retrieve my husband’s cell phone, the case appeared on the floor behind the driver’s seat. I stared at what-looked-like-an-orange-mirage a minute before I picked it up. I had been in that spot many times since the day I looked for the missing glasses. The case gave me no clue about where it had hidden since there were no scratches or dirt tracks. It did not tell me why it had taken such a long hiatus. (Comments open to a peculiar lost-and-found story.)

I like to delve into deeper meanings whenever I can. What am I ignoring in my own life just because I don’t want to see it? Are there opportunities I miss because I take an easier path instead?

In the past week I have become aware of people who have gone into hospice; one died yesterday. She left a husband and two young sons. Even though I didn’t know the woman well I knew her husband. I criedfor them and for me. I know she dedicated her life to family. She saw through spiritual lenses that had transcended circumstance. It isn’t likely that she will be found on a listing of famous people; she will be found on a list of people who made the world better because she lived. And that is what matters.

And so I ask for the vision to see better—while searching for lost glasses or for recognizing that moment when a kind word or action can make the difference between despair and hope.

glasses with angel


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