It’s 5am on Friday, the beginning of the end of a very long week. Several of my patients are standing on the edge of this world, making ready for their transition into the next. It is bittersweet at best, I find tears in the early morning light that are for me, for my heart is tender in ways I do not share with my families, this is their journey I am only a guide.
The once beautiful model, her face drawn and etched with the little life she clings to, packed her suitcase two weeks ago and said she was waiting for the train. Physical beauty is revered in our culture, the remnants speak of a stunning young woman, but it is her inner beauty that’s the true jewel.
The Alzheimer’s patient who endured the occupation of her country by the Nazi’s slowly fades. Her tearful daughter asks me “What am I going to do? I have been taking care of her for so long…” We talk about how her life will change, how this chapter of her life is coming to a close. The gift she gave her Mom by caring for her and keeping her home, no regrets.
Then there’s T, a once feisty woman who gave me the stink-eye when I first encountered her only a few short weeks ago. She has cheated death so often her family is trying to wrap their heads around the fact she is truly dying. She is weak, still able to speak but spends a great deal of time staring into a place only she can see. We ask, she cannot verbalize her visions. I kiss her on the forehead and she focuses her gaze on me, it is full of love, my heart breaks open just a little more. I tell her I miss her stink-eye and she cracks the barest of smiles.
The sun in now rising in the eastern sky, the clouds are shades of lavender, a sky of hope. For all I give in my work I receive so much more. My patients and their families feed my soul, they give me purpose and an opportunity to stand on the edge of the world.