FOOD FOR THE SOUL
I am not afraid to die! Hopefully that time will come much much later in my life, but when that day comes I will welcome it. Please don’t misconstrue my words, I am not depressed, nor do I want to die…. I just mean that I am not afraid to die. When I first graduated from nursing school I worked in the nursing home a few blocks from home. I was only going to stay until I could find a better job, possible one with weekends and holidays off? Working in a nursing home if hard backbreaking work, but the trade-off is that you have the honor of caring for people, some who are nearing the end of their lives. My career there lasted for 11 years, and I was humbled to be in the presence of many who took their last breath and “crossed over.” I always felt I did my best nursing when I was able to care for those who were about to embark on the beginning of their eternal life. The life that they were prepared for, because they knew that this life was temporary, and the next life would be forever. There would be no more pain, no more suffering, just a wonderful life beyond anything they had ever imagined.
Over the years there have been those patients that just leave a mark on your heart, and leave a message that verifies what I know will happen when we pass on. I went into one of my cherished patients room one evening to give her bedtime medications. She took her medication, and I took care to be sure she was comfortable and tucked in for the night. She was at a spry age of 93, and was still as sharp as a tack. She had me sit at her bedside because she had something to tell me. I was so busy, but I took the time to sit on the edge of the bed knowing she needed to share something important. She took my hand and announced…”Honey, Tomorrow I am going to die!” Just like that…as simple as telling me that she needed her pillow propped up. I looked into her beautiful face and asked how she knew that, because she seemed to be in stable condition, even for her age. She just smiled and squeezed my hand, and told me that Jesus had visited her last night. She said the room was filled with a bright light and He sat with her and told her that she would be standing before the gates of heaven very soon. I had chills, and started to tell her that perhaps she was dreaming? She smiled at me and told me that this was the moment that people wait in earnest for, and she was ready. I smiled at her and gave her a quick kiss on her forehead and wished her a good nights sleep, wondering if I would see my favorite lady when I returned to work in a few days. When I returned to work, I learned that she had died in her sleep about 5am, the day after we had spoken. I can’t tell you what that does to your psyche…I was raised as a Christian, but at the young age of 23, this was very foreign to me.
About 5 years later I was caring for a man who was suffering horribly from bone cancer. He would just cry when I would enter the room, and beg me not to move him. I would quietly tell him that I was so sorry, but we needed to change his position in the bed to prevent pressure sores, and that we would try our best to make the move as painless as possible. I knew that even the slightest movement caused excruciating pain, but it couldn’t be helped. The CNA and I would plan the easiest way to turn him over before we started, using folded sheets placed under his torso that would help us cradle him while we repositioned him. We would move as gently as we could and he would try to be strong, but always ended crying out in pain. One afternoon his breathing became shallow, and his blood pressure was slowly going down. His kidneys were not functioning at all, and the time was coming when he was going to leave us. I called his son, who lived about an hour away, and I strongly suggested that he try to come as soon as possible. He said he had some things to finish up, and then he would come. We didn’t move him much that day, at that point comfort was the number one thought for me. He kept asking for his son, and I kept telling him to hang on, he was coming. His pulse and blood pressure continued to fall, and his breathing became labored. He seemed to sleep peacefully for about an hour, then woke up and said “Shelly, thank you for calling my family to come to see me. It is so nice to see the room full of so many people.” He was smiling from ear to ear, and the pain seemed to be gone. I looked around the room and there was no one there but he and I. I told him that his son should be arriving soon, try to hang in there because he wanted to see him. At that moment he looked beyond me and seemed to survey the room, smiling and nodding his head as if saying hello, and then died. His son arrived shortly after his death and I explained what had happened. He said he wasn’t surprised, and was sure his mother was there to meet his father, as well has his whole family who had previously passed. He said the exact thing had happened when his mother had passed away, and his dad told the story many times. Perhaps his dad had told the story so many times that he truly felt there were people in the room, or the cancer had affected his brain, perhaps the adverse effects of the pain medication, or maybe he was having delusions? All I can tell you is that there was such a feeling of love and warmth in that room when he took his last breath that I will never fear crossing that bridge into the next chapter of my life ♥
PS: My intention with this blog is not depress any of my readers, but I want my experiences to give some hope to those who have lost loved ones and are struggling. I have experienced many of these moments and may write about some more of them at a later date.