As I find things I’m grateful for tonight before I sleep, I must say I am grateful for Mrs. K. She is an 88-year-old woman who I visited with tonight. She is in the final stages of her life and as a hospice volunteer, I was providing a final hours visit. Mrs. Kip was alert and responsive. Typically a final hours case is just as it sounds… and patients are unresponsive. But Mrs. Kip responded when I told her I was with her. She continued to look up at me frequently and when I smiled, she smiled back. I generally just sit quietly and provide company.
After about 20 minutes of silence, Mrs. Kip looked up at me and said something that was too quiet for me to hear. I leaned closer and she repeated, “How are you doing?” She was asking about my comfort. I told her I was doing well. She continued to check in several more times, making sure I wasn’t too sleepy. She told me that she was tired. I’m thinking now that she meant she was ready to die. I told her to close her eyes and sleep if she wanted, that I would be with her.
Let me say more about hospice. I have been blessed beyond belief throughout my life, showered with love and friendship. I knew that I wanted to give back and hospice seemed a logical choice. No one should have to be alone in the final hours of their life. We have huge celebrations when we come into this world but we uncomfortably separate from death, just another inevitable stage of life. We in western culture ignore and avoid the subject of death to the point that people are sometimes left to make this last transition all alone. For some, there is no family, no friends or companions to share the final hours. Such a sacred passage if we only acknowledge the perfect cycle of life.
I do not know what comes after death, but it must be much easier to transition if there is someone to see you off and I believe someone who will greet you on the other side. Perhaps someday we will view death as just another journey that we all will take. It really is one of very few things that everyone has in common.
So tonight, sitting vigil on my chair, I am blessed with the sacredness of a complete stranger’s final journey. Mrs. Kip had pictures of family all around her. There were old wedding photos and other sepia photos offering proof of a life lived fully. Mrs. Kip has Alzheimers and most likely does not recognize the people in those old photos but they are in there, they have moved to a place that she can’t access readily, but who is to say that perhaps in dreams, they visit and laugh and cry and share their common history. When you have let someone into your heart, how can they possibly disappear forever?
I am grateful to Mrs. Kip and her photos and her compassion for yet another stranger who entered her room.
It is impossible to feel sadness and gratitude at the same time. It seems impossible to be unable to find at least three things to be grateful for each day. I participated in a daily practice for a while sharing my daily dozen, 12 things each day to be grateful for. I found that just looking a little deeper made me see the brilliance in the world.
I do not write these posts completely for myself. I hope to do my small part in raising the vibrations in this world. If we all just did a little each day, imagine how we could resonate! I challenge you to take just a minute and find 3 things for which you are grateful today. I believe if you do this daily, you will change your life and the world will notice. It has been a suckass week for me and after work this afternoon I was wanting a big cry. Sadness and self-pity do not serve me anymore. I am noticeably happier this evening beause of a change in gratitude. Thanks for listening. I’m grateful for all of you!