Gratitude

A letter I sent to the hospice team I have the privilege to work with.

Dear Colleagues:

I feel a deep sense of gratitude as I finish my orientation that I would like to share with you.

Each person who has helped to orient me has had an impact on my practice.

To the CNA’s and HHA’s: You have shown me the foundation of connection. Being present with our clients and having to help them when they are most vulnerable. You provide help with activities we once took for granted we could do, sensitive daily rituals involving intimate parts of our bodies that are normally never exposed to others. You help take the sting, embarrassment and, for some, shame out of needing this kind of assistance. You do it with such professionalism and compassion that it puts our clients at ease. This is a priceless gift. Thank you.

To our Spiritual Care Team: You have shown me the deep, rich mine of mystery that lies within each of us. You provide our clients a link between this life and the next, the wonder of finding a connection to something greater than ourselves, the power that a prayer, the singing of a favorite hymn or spiritual song, can do to bring peace to troubled or aching souls.

To our Social Workers: You have shown me the art of performing the intricate steps required in the dance of human relationships. In an ever changing, unpredictable and often thorny path, you place your feet calmly and with purpose, clearing the way for our clients and their loved ones to find their way back to each other. When that is not possible, you comfort and hold them, witness to the immense limitations and possibilities we humans have as social creatures in relation to one another.

To our Nurses: You have shown me patience, courage, skill and resilience. You give me such pride in the heritage of our profession, of all the women and men who walked into danger without blinking to ease the pain of wounds, to minister to our fickle bodies that sometimes seem to betray us. You radiate compassion without pity, withstand fractious moods and misplaced anger, find creative ways to work in sub-optimal conditions so that if the gold standard of care cannot be met, the patient still receives the best care within the limitations you are presented with.

To our Physicians and Nurse Practitioners: You lead, you innovate, you tolerate levels of stress that would break most and have caused many of your colleagues to leave the profession. You use humor, patience and forbearance to keep our patients comfortable and willingly challenge your colleagues when they show ignorance about palliative care and hospice. You educate, you guide, you inspire.

To everyone in the office: Sometimes I think you have the hardest jobs of all because you do not go into the homes and feel the gratitude, see the expressions of relief and share the laughter and tears with our clients. You provide each of us in the field with invaluable support and encouragement. You keep things running in the most difficult conditions I think our health care system has ever faced.

I am so proud to be a part of this team. I value each of you, am looking forward to continuing to get to know you and hope that I can prove to be a colleague worthy of all you have given me.

With immense gratitude and respect,

Janet

Mystical

Life does not just sleep

In the darkness.

Even when there is too little light

To see

There is movement,

Stretching upward, outward

Down into sweet earth.

Fertility abides without illumination

Resounds in the quiet

The soft hooting of an owl

Outside the window

Under countless stars

Within infinite galaxies.

Darkness invites light,

Night, the burgeoning dawn.

Everything precious, mystical

In an ephemeral moment.

The Road

The road is bumpy,

Full of potholes and misdirection.

It is understandable to become discouraged,

To lose your way,

To not want to ask for directions anymore.

But the path reveals us,

Allows the possibility for change,

To a new course.

One that starts with love and compassion for ourselves,

To stand under the new moon and feel reborn,

Open to the great aliveness that waits before us.

Missing you

I am already missing you.

Your singing and laughter,

Your innate creativity and playfulness,

Your ability to wonder at the world.

Your boundless heart,

Your relentless determination to be the best version of yourself,

To care for others, for social justice,

Your discernment and intellect.

Your deep and abiding commitment to friends

And family.

I think all parents hope their children

Will be better than than they are,

But I already know that you are completely yourself.

And I am so very grateful to be your mother.

Wonder

I lay in naked wonder,

At how the fractures in my sometimes troubled relationships,

Have been repeatedly healed with love.

At how I have sometimes limited my grief,

Afraid of it’s unknown depths.

At the comfort fellow creatures of paw and hoof,

Have offered unconditionally.

At the awe of each precious unfolding moment,

Gone before my trembling hand can grasp it,

All the more a treasure as the energy of the universe,

Enfolds and flows through us all in the midst

Of tenderness, violence, ease and discomfort.

Implacable in moving on and on and on….

Finding you

I dream of finding you,

Lost to the riptide of time,

And circumstance.

My dear one, my son,

Who brightened everyday with your smile,

Your laugh,

Our shared tears.

It is no wonder I cannot sleep,

Still hear the relentless pulse of the monitor,

Still on guard,

Always on guard,

For what could go wrong,

For the call to 911,

The interventions,

The trauma to your fragile body,

In order to save your life,

Held by the most slender thread,

Of love and vigilance.

I could never measure up to the task,

Yet you loved me anyway.

By some miracle, some grace,

Our lives entwined to make something more,

More than I could have ever imagined,

More than a human life could hope for,

More than I can ever repay.

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