The Dress

parrish03_800

I have a hospice patient who is dying, I know, this is what they are supposed to do, but my heart breaks for her husband.  She is his one and only, no children. Her decline has been both fast and slow, but I feel as though we are coming very close.

Last week during a visit she had her eyes closed and a smile on her face.  I asked her why.  She asked me if the girl who was with me was my daughter. I asked, “Is this what you are seeing with your eyes closed?” She replied yes and describe the girl with brown hair.  This is the first time that a patient has shared with me seeing spirit that isn’t directly related to themselves.  It is not uncommon for a patient to see their own family members prior to death and in fact she had seen her own Mother the previous week.  I don’t have a daughter in spirit from this life that I am aware of, but I do have a cousin who passed at 6 years old and she remains close to me in my work.  In any case it was a gift to me, knowing that my patient saw spirit beside me brings me comfort on so many levels.

Her husband then mentioned he wanted to get her a white dress.  He wanted her to look beautiful and send her off that way.  He said he was going to run to the local thrift store to look, I was pretty sure it had closed down and told him I had something in my closet he might like. I have one of those closets, like my mother before me, clothes from 30 years ago that don’t fit because my body has found a new form, but I just don’t want to part with things just yet.

I dropped off the lace ivory sheath, leaving it on the front door handle as he had run to do a few errands. The next day when I returned his eyes lit up and he was so grateful, the store no longer existed, and he had found nothing.  He showed me the matching sweater he wanted to pair with the dress, it was perfect. He said he couldn’t understand it how it seemed like this dress was meant for his wife, and yet it had come from me.  Looking at the pattern of the lace I realized it was hearts intertwined, yes it was perfect.

We cared for his wife and I complimented him on all his care, he said, “These things you can learn to do, but the sadness, that I don’t know what to do with it.” His eyes smiled through the pain, he walked into the kitchen dabbing at his eyes. I allowed him his privacy, he had shared what he could. I kissed his wife on her forehead goodbye and told her ‘I will see you tomorrow’.  She nodded her head yes; she is not ready yet.

Love is patient, Love is kind, Love is a lace dress adorned with hearts.

 

Posted in spiritual | Leave a comment

Kindness by boat

Act-of-Kindness-Art

I grew up on Cape Cod. Anyone who has been there knows that in Provincetown there is a large gay community.  Perhaps I should call it something else now but growing up that was how we referred to it as. In many ways it was a place where people could be themselves, often displaying their sexuality in flamboyant style.  I don’t really remember questioning my parents about this, it was just the way things were.  In our small-town miles away we had one man who had long blond ringlets and breasts.  He was always nervous and often avoided eye contact. I would see him at the post office, and I am almost certain I asked my mother about him, he confused me as a child.

My Father was a kind man often too much for his own good.  He brought home stray animals and lonely people.  He could have a hard shell but beneath it was mush. He had a small motor boat that we would go out on and fish.  On one such trip into the bay, the tide was coming in as we rode through the narrow creek out into the bay where the flounder were waiting for us.

In the mist of the oncoming tide maybe a quarter mile off shore stood two lone figures on a rapidly disappearing sandbar.  The water was rising, it was up to their waists and the look of distress on their faces became clearer the closer we got to them.  It was the man with the blond ringlets and breast and his friend.  They were beyond nervous and seeing four children in the boat there was a lot of silent adult dialogue exchanged between these men and my Father.

“I can’t swim!” the man said trembling with fear. My Father pulled them both into our boat and turned to the shore to return them to safety. They were beyond grateful.

My Father did not explain their predicament to us, we were children after all. He just did the right thing, the kind thing.  He rescued two men from a certain death, it was a profound moment.  I honestly think their sexuality confused my Father, but in that moment of need, what he saw was two people who needed help and kindness.  In that moment my Father became a hero to me. Kindness came home to live in my heart.

Posted in spiritual | 3 Comments

When Fairies Fly

fairy

A friend died this week.  I hadn’t seen her in a long while, which is the case with most of my friends, we all have busy, busy lives. This friend I spent time with as our kids were growing up and I have fond memories of taking massage class together, Tia chi in the park, losing half the baked ziti out of the back of her husband’s pick-up truck on our way to the beach club picnic.  Both of us looking at the asphalt with the same thought, “well maybe, just maybe we could save some of it?” then bursting into fits of giggles and driving away.

She had a huge compassionate heart, she knew life was messy, she just kept going. One of the kindest things she did for me was after the attack in Oklahoma City I had called her and was crying, “Those poor people, those poor babies! We need to do something, what can we do?” I wanted to do a neighborhood gathering of donations, she had bigger aspirations and called me back within an hour.  She had gotten us a table at the town’s Earth Day celebration, radio time, even the mayor showed up, taking credit for her idea. We collected goods and monies and then these were taken to a drop off center.  I remember the organizer in awe saying we had made the single biggest monetary donation yet.  This was just one example of her impact. She was a pebble with many ripples.

Like all of us she had her challenges, but her heart was kind.  She loved fairies.  I found a necklace with a beautiful blue crystal. She was going through a major life crisis.  She called me not soon afterwards distraught saying the crystal had come loose and fell to the floor breaking in half. There was no way to repair it, but the fairy was intact.  I told her the crystal left because she had been healed and she didn’t need it anymore.  She loved the necklace and wore it for the next 22 years.

She gave me friendship, a sacred gift. Now she is flying home with the fairies.

Posted in spiritual | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Slow Dance

Zvezda-1

Signs from spirit are lovely, yesterday when leaving for work a vibrant red cardinal swooped past me singing his song. Throughout my work day I saw the same four numbers that are specific to one of my loved ones in spirit. He often makes his presence known to me providing me with comfort as I move forward in this complex and often chaotic human form. My connection with Spirit and the Divine are my coping mechanism, it buoys me up through darkness offering me a “lifeline” to the Light. People often comment about how calm I am, but that is only because they cannot see the inner workings.  They believe I am so strong for all I have endured and the work I have chosen to do.  I am as flawed and broken as the next person.  My heart is broken often, in my line of work this is an occupational hazard, but I also know each time I am broken open and heal I am able to hold more love and light within my heart. But I am not without doubt, recently seeing that I am not the Sprite I use to be I wondered how much longer I could do hospice nursing, it can be physically demanding. I was in need of a backup plan… I often call out to Spirit for help… because I have learnt if you don’t ask you don’t receive…

Last night I had the sweetest dream…standing outside in the grass people were milling around and then I saw my beloved one standing off to the side.  He was healthy, handsome and so beautiful in my eyes. He smiled at me and began to sing…

“Wish I knew what was going on, seems so very long since we laughed together…”

His voice was wrapped in shades of blue…. I walked over and placed my head on his chest, I could feel the vibration of his song… He gently wrapped his arms around me, and we slow danced. I told him how much I love him when he sings to me…. I sing with him….

Later I am sitting in an all-white room sorting thru boxes.  I am perplexed because I need to find a job I can do and fulfill my obligation to the son I am raising…I pick a box and look into it.  My beloved one is standing next to me along with a woman also in spirit.  He says… “You are a writer, use your imagination.” It is the perfect answer to my question. His love and advice are pure.  He can see what I cannot. He sends me love from beyond because the bonds of love are never broken, ever.

Posted in spiritual | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ground Control

17fe9fd07732ae6ff97cdd8234613ccb

Falling asleep after a particularly challenging day at work my mind swirls around my hospice patients and the day’s events…I wonder if there is more I could have done to alleviate the suffering…it is not physical or emotional suffering that I see, these I can address on some level, it is spiritual pain.  This is a very personal pain, there are no drugs for this type of pain.

I drift into the land of dreams and find myself in an old house. There are numerous guitars lying around, I go on the hunt to find one I want to play.  Out of nowhere David Bowie appears, this seems almost natural to the course of the dream. Since the age of 8 when I went to my first concert I have been in love with the guitar, never able to master much past a few basic chords, I am sure my impatience has something to do it. David Bowie picks out a guitar for me, and then proceeds to give me a lesson, it is a Bach piece. I watch as his fingers display the correct pattern and yet I refuse the lesson stating it isn’t the right way. I want more, I want the sound of music I always hear, not this linear elementary offering.  He smiles at me and states “This is the way we begin…”

He then walks to the front of the building which is now a guitar shop, picks one that he fancies and plays a lovely ballad I have never heard in this life, and yet I know he has written it.  The owners are floored, they can’t believe David Bowie is in their store, isn’t he dead? I smile at their astonishment, perhaps he is no longer physical, but he is surely alive in the land of spirit and here in my dream.

Upon waking I remember bits and pieces trying to figure out why David Bowie would walk into my dream, as surely, he had. I am a radio fan and admired him for his graceful exit from this world.  So, I lie in bed thinking what was the message? And it instantly occurs to me: I didn’t like the way the lesson was taught- I wanted to hear something else more complex and beautiful, denying the beauty of the simplicity of the music I was given. The simple but difficult lesson that I couldn’t even master- and I wanted to fast forward to the harder more complex ones….in the world of spirit lessons are stepping stones up the vast sea of vibration, you cannot skip ahead.

So, the lesson translates to my world of hospice: My patient who is dying is my age, she has had 10 years to prepare for her transition, I have had 6 weeks. I struggle to watch her learn the last few lessons she has chosen before leaving this world, I want to make everything okay even though she is dying, I cannot.  My lessons are simple, Trust the Divine and Be Present.  Her lesson is to Trust the Divine and to Let Go.  In my head I can hear David Bowie singing, “Ground control to Major Tom,” it is a song about letting go…. Clearly, I am ground control and she is Major Tom,

“Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown,
Engines on
Check ignition
And may God’s love be with you”

I believe he came into my dream to let me know everything is as it should be, even when someone appears to be suffering it is only part of the journey back to Home, where ultimately and eternally we are safe and whole. God’s LOVE is always with us, we live and die (return) in the heart of God. God’s Love is always with us because we are always One.

Posted in spiritual, We Don't Die | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bella

il_570xN.103382939

Bella a golden retriever who was neglected in her earlier life was adopted and restored to her natural beauty by one of my hospice patients.  The bond between dog and human is palpable when you walk in the room.  I have a particular love for Goldens as I was fortunate enough to share 14 years of my life with my Ruby and now again 12 years with my doodle dog, Abby.  Dogs are amazing creatures, loving us when we cannot love ourselves, ever faithful in their love.  In fact, this morning I started my day with a wet kiss to my nose, is there any other way to greet the dawn?

Bella is sad sometimes, she knows the situation, the decline of her beloved Human, the suffering, the pain and emotional struggles, she bears witness to all.  Last week when I saw her, she raised her head in anticipation of my visit with her Human, our visits are more like old friends rediscovering each other. There is a soul recognition, we have done this before, in other forms, in other lifetimes, the three of us. Once again, we are in a place of great learning and love, trying to tease out the lessons of life before life itself ebbs away and whisks us all back to the world of spirit.  Bella knows this, her deep dark eyes shine with kindness.  I sit on the floor with her, I stroke her golden fur, her back legs ache with age, I offer her reiki, silently.  I speak to her in my mind, I know she is waiting, waiting for her Human to pass, wanting to walk that path with her so they can both exit this world together, their hearts are intertwined, their lesson is unconditional love, Bella exudes it, she is present, ever able and ready whenever her Human needs her, she is the guardian of her Human’s heart.

In rescuing Bella her Human rescued herself.

Posted in spiritual | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Divine Kindness

3ef3d819c17ac467c5718ae2923c38d9

Imagine if an unwanted guest showed up on your front door step and refused to leave, changing the very fabric of your life and your loved ones.  Imagine this guest could not be controlled despite your best efforts and this guest could be silent for periods of time and then crash into your day demanding your attention immediately, unexpectedly, threatening your safety and well-being and leaving in its wake confusion, exhaustion, possibly injury or death.  This is life with uncontrolled epilepsy.   1 in 26 people suffer from this illness, and it can manifest in many forms.

10 years ago, this guest arrived in my youngest sons’ life a byproduct of viral meningitis and encephalitis.  Standing outside his pediatric intensive care room I asked God if he was going to take my son, the doctors seemed to think so.  I heard a deep and clear voice that spoke “No, this is just something he has to go through.”  I was relieved and grateful and hopeful and very, very naïve.

Recently we applied for SSD for him, because at some point in time I will no longer be able to be his primary caregiver.  There needs to be a backup plan for him. In doing so we collected some of the medical records from the past 10 years, it was heart breaking to review them, to relive somethings that were best left in the past as we move forward each day in hope and optimism that his life is better, he heals and finds peace in a body he cannot control.

I know in so many ways we are lucky, I know people whose loved ones have died, or they are 100% dependent, so I am grateful that we are where we are.  Epilepsy changed my son’s life, my life, my family’s life.

So ultimately the reason I share this is not to garner pity, no.  I am a hospice nurse by trade and a mother of a disabled child by karma.  I share this because it is good to remember that everyone has challenges, visible and invisible that colors their world. Everyone has an unwanted guest in their life that challenges the fabric of their character, forcing them to grow and make choices, often hard ones. When I look at other people’s lives, I try to remember this and open my heart through kindness because I only know my own story, I cannot not know theirs.  But I can offer love, and non-judgement and a hug, because no matter the challenges we are here together now and it is a Divine thing to care for each other with kindness, always.

Posted in spiritual | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment