My favorite patient died yesterday- I had last seen him on Saturday and he was status quo- not great but basically the same he had been for months. He told me his wife Madelyn was waiting for him. She had been my patient too. She passed last June after many moons on hospice. I knew I would take care of John when he was ready, and finally this past fall he was. He lived on gummy bears and Pepsi for months. He pretended to be a cranky guy to hide the pain he felt. He died of a broken heart, broken heart syndrome is real, I have witnessed it more than once. The good news is though we are Eternal Beings and although we may not be in the physical world together, we are always together in the world of Spirit.
Now that John passed all of us left behind grieve- we will miss him, but in my heart of hearts I know he had an incredible reunion with his beloved and they are now in the Gardens she prepared for him. She was a master gardener and although her earthly works have become weed ridden, I know in the land of Spirit she has grown Gardens far more beautiful and stunning than anything she accomplished here.
John was my last patient I will case manage, I am still working in hospice but not taking the responsibility of case managing, after 17 years of this work my heart has called out for a rest, and so I step away from this position. I held fast for John, as did his care givers, Cookie and Nancy – he was well cared for and deeply loved, and I know he knew it. He affectionately called me “Chicago” for our mutual love of the 70’s band…. Stories I never told him now he knows…. now he is free and easy.
Bless you both, you have marked my heart for life.
I thought I had shared this, but apparently not, so –
Last fall I was watching TMC, or rather it was in the background while I was reading. The movie was Dodge City, an Errol Flynn cowboy movie, not something I’d watch, but it was on none the less. The voices converse and I hear the name “Abby”. I smile, we had put our beloved Abby down a few months earlier, and I appreciated the “sign”. When we took her to the vet that day, it all happened so fast, as I held her head, I told her to go to Ruby, our golden and her companion of many years that had passed before her. Somehow, I knew Ruby would take her to the land of dogs over the Rainbow Bridge, it was heartbreaking -life without a dog is simply different.
As I was musing about hearing the name Abby in the movie “someone” prompted me to go look the movie up- I was missing the entire message. So, I googled the movie- and there in the cast members were two women, one whose character was named Abby and the other- I kid you not- Ruby!!! Here was my confirmation that my beloved dogs were indeed together. No more sorrow, no more worries.
I don’t know how this happens, all that I know is that it does and if we are open to seeing the signs Spirit provides them.
Fast forward to this Easter, my sons and I are walking in Island Heights. As we get out of the car, a young woman is walking a Golden puppy. Timing is everything- five minutes earlier or later and we would have missed her. Spiritual intervention, I am sure. We stop and talk. I had been trying to find a Golden through various rescues, and nothing was happening. She tells me about the place she got her puppy and gives me the info. I reach out to them and they have no more puppies, but- she knows of a litter and gives me that info. I call, there are 2 males left, I hesitate only because I had committed to seeing another rescue dog that week. When I finally call back there is only one puppy left, the last of the litter, the last pick, mine.
We pick him up on Mother’s Day weekend, what a gift. He is sweet, and the calmest puppy I have ever encountered. Life with a dog is so much better because no one loves you so unconditionally. Who else understands you when you are playing tug of war and yell out-
“I am the king of the Rabbit mountain….”
I look forward to the day when I can visit the Land of Dogs and reunite with all the wonderful dogs that graced my life. For now, Oliver and I will soldier on in this life hand in paw.
There is a saying I am not overly fond of- “Everything happens for a reason”. Cliches can be so annoying, especially when they are right. I have returned, back to where I was 6 months ago, but I am not the same person. I took a job at another hospice lured by a friend by promises of rebuilding and reshaping the current hospice team. This quickly digressed into a ‘dumpster fire at an oil refinery.’ There were many issues out of my control, and it was prudent on my part to leave. It was a disappointment for sure, as I had aspired to something greater, but all was not lost. It was a huge learning experience for me.
First and foremost, I realized the vast knowledge I had about hospice in general, when you see things being done incorrectly your knowledge pops to the surface and revolts! I also realized how incredibly difficult a job management is, and if one is not supported it is an impossible task at best.
Second, I learnt about myself, my discontent and where I was able to take responsibility for it. Healthcare is a business, and hospice is no exception, this is beyond my control. I was able to see myself more clearly, what was mine and what was not. I have case managed on and off for 17 years, it is a huge responsibility, one my heart cannot take anymore. I carry my patients in my heart and my heart breaks over and over again. I changed my position, and I feel this will work better for me.
Third, Time verse Money. I am getting older, my priorities have changed, I would rather have more time with those I love than things.
And lastly, I cannot express the love I felt from my former/current coworkers. I forget often that I am loved. It is silly of me, I know, but I am so focused on giving love that I forget to receive it. This was my best lesson. I am loved, how wonderful is that?
Sometimes we need to change our situation so our vision can become clearer. I am grateful for every moment as it leads to where I need to be, here, being loved and giving love.
What is better than that? A new puppy …. but that is another story.
I was buying flowers at the local market, it’s a lovely place, the colors, the smells, the possibilities of beauty overflowing. I was in a hurry, my time limited and I had so much to accomplish. I whooshed by an elderly man with a cap on that read “Korean War”- it has other information on it, it was a sign of his devotion to his country. I realized that his hat was his attempt to connect with others, perhaps someone who knew someone who had served, or better yet, that the general public knew he had served, that he, like all God’s children was worthy of consideration and kindness. He was not just an old man lost amid the flowers. He could not have been more than 20ish when he served- doing the math- 1950-2021- this gentleman had to be well into his 90’s.
The saleslady was awesome, she was patient and kind and worked with him to make sure he got just what he wanted, 4 hanging baskets. She acted as though there was no one else in the world except him. He was apologetic in nature, his first time to this market. They give you a yellow slip to take to the register to pay so you don’t have to bring all your flowers with you. I overheard the sales lady explaining this all to him. Suddenly I am opening my mouth, calling to her- “Here. Give me his slip- I want to pay for him!” She smiles as though she knew this already, she points to me already in line, the gentleman looks at me a little bewildered. I smile, oops I have a mask on- he cannot see my smile! So, I blow him a kiss- and he blows one back to me, and our connection is complete. My heart smiles. Being kind feeds my soul, I am grateful I am able to do so.
I love music, it is a part of my being, both my parents were musically talented, and it was expected of all four children to play an instrument. I have fond memories of playing Christmas carols on the piano while family and friends sang along. My Dad and I often played together, he on trumpet or flute and me on piano. We played songs from Jesus Christ Superstar and our favorite song, Bridge Over Troubled Water. I still cannot play those songs without his love in my heart bubbling over.
This morning I heard a song called Biko written about a man who changed the world for the better before he died. This song a tribute to his legacy. The world struggles with those that bring LIGHT to the darkness, “you can blow out a candle, but you cannot blow out a fire,” bring the LIGHT anyway.
Music to me is the language of the SOUL. It says what words alone cannot. Music is beyond human communication; it is the vibration of LOVE reconstructed into sound. Music will save us if we will only let it.
I invite you to open your SOUL and your mouth and sing today, in the shower, in the car, or anywhere that inspires you. Sing with JOY like the birds who everyday sing their praises to the morning light just because they can.
Remember your VOICE, your SOUL, and the LOVE you carry inside of you and share it with the world. The world will be a better place for your song.
This week was beyond difficult. My son developed pneumonia from aspiration due to his seizures. This is a reoccurring side effect of his epilepsy, two years ago he had double pneumonia. Taking anyone to the hospital right now is incredibly stressful due to covid, but when you go due to respiratory issues it is insane. They automatically label you as covid. Despite two negative tests the ER doctor sent my son to the covid unit without discussion with either him or me. Imagine waking up on the covid unit knowing you are negative-knowing you are already medically compromised, knowing the outcomes many have had. It took 12 hours to get him to a regular floor…. he is safe now and slated to come home today as his pneumonia responded to the antibiotic therapy. It was indeed just pneumonia.
So that was where we were- and where we are now, waiting for the phone call to come pick him up- I can reflect on all the kindness that was shown to us during this scary ordeal.
First his primary doctor responded immediately when I alerted him to the mix up. He put the order in for transfer at 9:30am- an hour after I discovered the issue. Bless him.
A friend works in the hospital, since we were not allowed to visit, she went downstairs and saw him and spoke with his nurse and called me back, this eased some of my angst. She also met me outside so I could send supplies to Sean, when you go to the ER the last thing you are thinking about is that. Bless her.
My bosses and coworkers picked up the slack for me at work without question. Bless them.
My friends and family listened and comforted me. They prayed and sent Light and Love to my son. They checked in, asked what they could do. One sent me dinner to my door. Bless them.
My middle son who lives with us became my rock, an advocate for his brother, asking questions that my poor frazzled mind missed. Bless him.
My Spirit Guides sent me numerous, I mean numerous signs they were around, bombarding me with evidence of their presence and comfort. Bless them.
Life is incredibly messy; it always has been and will continue to be. I spend my professional life as a hospice nurse being the supporter of people going through tremendous times of change, it is just my nature. To be on the receiving end of kindnesses, to be supported during a crisis and being able to recognize the good in the world, in the people surrounding me and my son is a gift in dark times.
Kindness lurks everywhere, available to everyone, wanting to be a presence in our lives.
The eyes are the windows of the SOUL. This pandemic has forced all of us to look deeply into each other eyes when communicating, facial expressions are hidden behind our masks, lip reading is not an option and so our eyes and our ears have become keener in discerning communication.
I often think of this when speaking to people because depending on how open they are is reflected in their eyes. You can detect a smile and a sparkle in the eyes, a sadness or anger as well. The eyes reflect emotion and we have been forced into focusing our understanding here.
The eyes are the windows of the SOUL. But often I cannot see beyond the human expression, occasionally there is a brief glimmer of the eternal being standing in front of me. Once in a blue moon someone lets me venture into their spiritual world through their eyes. Beyond the human emotion is a sea as vast as the night sky, the soul swims effortlessly through this sea of LOVE surfacing as compassion.
There are gifts in darkness, often they are hidden and hard to open when we are so consumed with the immediate pain of our humanness, but here, in this time, a time that will be written about and not forgotten by historians, we have gifts to open, the chance to connect with each other through the windows of our SOULS.
Last night I called a friend who lives 350 miles away, although we text daily, I haven’t seen him in years. We were talking about the need to give during the holiday season, he mentioned his favorite charities- I mentioned mine, and how a little bit of our money could bring hope to someone else. He then told me on his daily walk he saw a lone man which is unusual as he walks the shores of the Cape in all weather. He offered the salutation of “How are you?” the lone man stopped and replied, “I am struggling, I am depressed. I gave up drinking 20 years ago and the isolation of our times is killing me.”
Certainly not the response my friend had imagined. So, he stopped, staying 6 feet away, and spoke with this lonely soul. He provided what we call in nursing- “active listening”. He listened so the other man felt he was heard and had made a human connection, a dent in his feelings of isolation. The man spoke of his fishing boat and his catches and other seemingly trivial things, most important to him.
During our conversation it occurred to me that my friend was at the right place at the right time to provide a gift of compassion and human interaction, a gift well above and beyond anything money could have done. A moment of recognition, acceptance and common bond was all this lonely soul needed.
Who knows if he prayed for help prior to his walk, but someone somewhere made sure out in the sands of the Cape two men would meet. This moment was spiritually orchestrated no doubt in my mind.
It becomes more and more evident to me how much we need each other, life is messy and unpredictable, and to have someone else hear us, acknowledge our struggles, share a moment is something money doesn’t offer. The gifts of the heart are priceless.
Yesterday a friend called, she was going through a frustrating time and needed someone to vent to, someone she could unravel her feelings with, someone safe who would support her and not judge. She needed a friend. She apologized for bothering me at the end of the call, but honestly, I was happy she had called, and we could share time because she has been there for me. Because of her presence I have a lovely memory of us sitting outside on my front steps this past summer with my dog Abby the night before she took the rainbow bridge. There was an otherworldly feel to that moment, there was peace. My friend and I had stopped chatting and I looked at Abby, she was so content, so absorbed in the moment, just being was enough. This memory has brought me comfort beyond any words could. A moment in time just sharing being here on this earth together, just being.
In our world we are expected to do, to produce, to become, to grow. To have a moment just to be -surrounded by those we love is such a gift. To have relationships whether it is family, friend, or pet where we can express love and appreciation for each other even in silence is priceless.
The holidays pressure us to buy and give gifts as the only token of our love for each other. Gifts of the soul- giving space, silence, nonjudgement, being are just as sacred if not more. Giving someone a memory, a laugh, a hug they can hold onto when they move through life is a gift worth giving.
I am so grateful for all of my friends, each providing me with an opportunity to receive love and give love. Friendship is indeed the best gift of all.
The day before I was slated for a healing session with my favorite healer Anysia Kiel (check her out at Anysiakiel.com) I was walking by the inlet at Island Heights with my boys. It was a blustery warm day perfect for an after-work stroll. My phone rung, it was not a number I recognized so I ignored it and we made our way around and back the water offering white caps as some small sailboats took in the wind. My phone rang again, this number I recognized. It was a patient who had passed in March from ALS, she had been on service a long time, 18 months, that is long in the hospice world. We had many nice visits as my heart slowly broke watching her disease consume her. I had stopped by to see her husband once after her death and had been meaning to stop by in recent months, but life demands kept each day full no matter the longing of my heart. So, I answered the phone- “Hello?”
The voice on the other end was a little annoyed, “You just called this number? Your phone number just came up! Who is this?” Her husbands voice demanding my answer.
“John, it’s me Phyllis-but I didn’t call you- “
“Who?” the wind was causing turbulence in the background.
“It’s me-Chicago!” His nickname he gave me for our mutual love of the band. He rarely called me by my given name.
“Chicago? Oh my?! Did you call me?”
“No, but you have been on my mind, and I honestly have wanted to stop by…” truly this was the case.
“Hmmm, well your number came up on my phone!”
“It must be Marilyn,” I offered
“Yes, it must have been her! Well you know you can come by anytime….”
We spoke for a few more minutes and then with promises to visit I hung up.
The next night I went to my healing session, the energy was crowded with spirit so much so even I could feel it. After the usual spirit appearance of my favorites, Anysia stopped and listened, “You had a woman, a patient that recently passed?”
Now this was a surprise to me, because believe it or not no patient in spirit has ever crashed a healing session. Which always surprised me, I have been doing hospice for 17 years and helped hundreds of people pass and yet she was the first to visit. Anysia described her as being light and airy- which was wonderful after years of being prisoner in her body on the earth plane. She said, thru Anysia’s translation, that I had no idea how I effected people, and how grateful she was that I shared her journey home. She said that I was truly an Angel. It was extremely sweet, and her words made me cry. Her disease is my least favorite, if there can be one, and it took a lot of internal courage to walk her home, it broke my heart often, but I showed up because that was what was asked of me.
I read recently two things about butterflies, one is they don’t see the beauty of their own wings, but they still fly and the other is we often forget the process the butterfly goes through to become one. Metamorphosis is often messy, caterpillar, cocoon, gooey mixture that rebirths into a beautiful being.
So I do not see myself as an Angel, I am too human at this point, but I do see myself as a butterfly having been through some daunting and messy moments that brought me where I am now. I am learning to see my worth, to see myself as others see me, to respect myself as others respect me.
The thing is this, my patients feed my soul, they help me grow and become a better person, they develop my spirit and allow me to share the Light of God that is in all of us. Whatever I have done for them in sharing their journey the return has been tenfold. I am truly blessed and grateful for a visit from the Otherside.