fulfillment

It’s been an intense 3 days at work. O the terrible family dramas, the extreme mental/emotional confusion and agitation, the physical pain and indignities, the agonizing dilemmas (and the sweet quiet moments too). I have no answers, no cures, no fixes for any of it, but I can face all of it directly, engage with it, embrace it with so much deep care and solidarity for our shared plight as human beings. Driving home this evening, I cried with gratitude for this work and for all the things that have happened in my life that have led me here. All the beauty and pain in my own life produced this skill set, strength and love that I get to put to good use every day that I’m at the Guest House. To accompany people in these raw moments of life and death is profoundly fulfilling.

Beautiful Human

A resident died at the Zen Hospice Guest House the other day who carried many divisive labels of race, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin and medical condition. I was aware of all the vitriol, stereotypes, violence and political prejudice that are attached to that person’s body as I tenderly bathed and changed them in their final weeks of life.

I did not get a chance to have any conversations with this person – they spoke another language primarily and they were pretty much unconscious all of the time I was with them. And so I do not know the stories they carried, what experiences they lived through, and yet I knew this person must have faced some very tough times. I found them to be extremely beautiful, even in their emaciated state from illness. Beautiful in their clear and vulnerable humanity and also just in their own unique self and their obvious strength. Aesthetically beautiful too – skin, bone structure, all gorgeous to my eyes.

I often felt a fervent wish that this person had experienced much love and appreciation for their beauty and their humanity. When they seemed somewhat conscious, I would stroke their forehead and call them “beautiful” in their language. In their semi-conscious state they would smile a bit or chuckle sweetly. I hope my love was truly received.

I watched every nurse and volunteer who attended this person give such love and respect to them, people of all kinds of backgrounds.   It was deeply heartening to see that love. I am so grateful to experience the very best of humanity in my work.

snapshot of my shift today

Just a brief note, full story to come soon:

Such an intense day at work. This morning a truly lovely 98 year old woman died as I sat alone with her, holding her hand, feeling her pulse give a final burst and then slowly quieting to nothing. Such sweetness, such an honor to share her final moments. And then being with the enormous grieving and confused community of friends and family of a young woman dying a pretty unpleasant death, her 2 school-age children, bright, earnest and sweet, massaging their dying mother’s hands. And all the rest of the day, much love and connection, appreciation, sadness, laundry, cookies and changing incontinence briefs. I am fulfilled.