Winks from Heaven

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This week I lost a patient I took care of briefly, she was well into her transitioning state when I met her, so I had little verbal interaction with her.  Her daughter and granddaughter were her primary care givers, ever attentive, wanting her to be comfortable, and eventually have a peaceful passing.

She was my first patient today, I knew the time was getting closer, but I never know for sure, as the body can prepare the way and the spirit can linger if one so desires. She was resting peacefully, her breathing very automatic, her face relaxed her eyes closed.  Her coloring had changed, for certain it was only a matter of hours, not days.

The visit prior to this one was filled with the exploration of afterlife possibilities.  I shared many of my stories, some I have shared on this blog, others are still close to my heart.  I share because experiences are a wonderful teacher, a kind way to explore what one may believe. I try not to preach, but to share, opening up someone else’s mind to infinite possibilities of what the Afterlife may be. I hope that it brings comfort to those I share with.  We talked about other experiences, books that we read, the concept of Near-Death Experiences, their beliefs.

After I left today I was headed to another patient and my phone buzzed, I had gotten a friend request from a person with the very same last name as the woman who had just passed. I thought it must be a relative but when I got home and looked her up it turned out to be someone who was involved in Near Death Experiences and I had recently commented on a site! Same last name, what are the chances? I felt it was a wink from heaven, a sign. And I know her granddaughter now reads my blog, so this is for you J- a wink from Grandma!

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Sharing Clouds

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I love the lucid moments dementia offers, a little gift in the midst of frustration and sadness.  Yesterday my patient was crying, he was watching another resident wheel down the hallway to an outside door that was locked. The resident banged on the locked door.  My patient looked up at me, “He can’t get out! I want out!” Tears of frustration for the loss of the simple freedom of going outdoors.

I asked the floor nurse if we could go outside, she led us to an enclosed courtyard.  A white fence surrounded the small compound, a few late blooming flowers lined the walkway but the sky above us was enormous. My patient smiled as we settled into a shaded area. He looked up, a bank of clouds, remnants of last night storms, danced across the sky high and billowing.

“I love clouds!” he said. A simple statement of contentment.

“Me too.”

In silence we watched absorbing the beauty of the sky. A dragonfly zipped by perhaps surveying the late summer blooms.

“Oh!” he said as he focused on its flight.

“Ah! A dragonfly!” I state.

A group of crows noisily arrive in the treetops, he startles.  I reassure him, “It’s okay, it’s only the crows.”  They are early, much to early in my estimation.

His wife arrives, his eyes brighten with recognition.  She has brought him root beer and life is good again.

Communication takes on a whole new level with dementia.  You must dig deep, look deeply into a person’s eyes, speak with your heart. There is a person inside their cacophony of thoughts, indeed a soul who is struggling to be understood.  I always speak with my dementia patients as if they can fully understand me and I listen as if I fully understand.

As I say my goodbyes he looks at me and says, “I care for you so much!” Words so sweet my heart melts.

“Thank you, I care for you too.”

One must listen with the heart.

 

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Red Rover

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When I was very young I use to play a came called “Red Rover”. I have a distinct memory of playing with a group of children on the front lawn of the church I often went to.  Two lines of children holding hands face each other about ten feet apart. The opposing team would call out a name “Red Rover, Red Rover send Phyllis over…”  Then my line would release me, and I would run headlong with all my might into their line hoping to break the chain, in which case I could return to my team. If not, if their line held tight and I was caught in their web, I would have to join them.  I think of this game often as it reminds me so much of life and death.  Yes, I think of these things daily. We live our lives with our hands entwined with our loved ones on earth but at some point in time we are called to the Otherside by the loved ones who have gone before us.  Most of us when we are called do not break the chain, we embrace the Afterlife and stay.  But once in a blue moon though we hear of people who have been called to the Otherside only to return with visions of wonder and comfort. In my old neighborhood a young man with brain damage from a car crash told me his story.  He and his friends had been drinking and driving and they crashed, everyone died (stayed) except him.  He distinctly remembers seeing his deceased Grandmother on the Otherside, she explained to him it was not his time and he needed to return to care for his own mother. He spent a long time in the hospital, trached and unconscious, but he did emerge from his coma and now lives with his Mother who is caring for him, as he cares for her in a way only the soul understands.

There is mystery to life and death we will never know, but those who have come back bring with them memories and experiences of their time on the Otherside, when shared can offer comfort to those of us who are still standing yet to be called.

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Finding Love and God

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Some believe that God is Love.  Love is God. That beyond the thin veil of the physical world lies a world of endless Love, eternal Peace and Divine Light.  I am one of those people. I am not preaching, I am just sharing my belief. I often say to my hospice patients and families that Life is the hard part, beautiful, bittersweet and messy.  Life is what breaks our hearts and opens our souls to grow and in doing so we are able to contain more Love.  More God.  It is a challenging business, having these physical bodies.  They are demanding and often damaged -but offer us insight into Love that we cannot have on the other side of God’s creation.  The gift of the physical world has such an allure that we crave to come here, to become more, to rejoice in our pain and suffering because it will bring us closer to Love and God.  Sometimes this is so hard to imagine, so hard to accept.  And I will be the first to admit it.  Yesterday I drove past a former patients’ mother.  I pulled to side of the road, and she did too.  We embraced for the first time since her 44-year-old son died, her husband just three weeks before.  While I cared for her son, he became my boy too, her sadness mine, such a hard goodbye. He now lives in my heart too. Words were difficult to find as we embraced, but she said, “We love you.” And that is what it is about, finding Love in all the good and all the bad and all the moments in between.  Love.

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Blessings

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Work has been a whirlwind this summer and yesterday was no different except for the fact I actually stopped to pick up some lunch.  We are allotted a half hour each day but most of us keep a stash of snacks in the car and never truly indulge.  It was Friday, and for that reason alone I stopped to catch my breathe.  My hospice work encompasses the emotional wellbeing of not only my patients but their family members as well, when I ask someone how they are doing it is not a perfunctory question, it is a door I open and walk through many times a day.  It must be something in my inflection though because when I asked the cashier “How are you?” He very quietly and sweetly responded, “I’m blessed” It took a moment for this to register in my brain, it was not the response I had expected, I looked up and met his eyes, deep pools of brown. In an instant I was reminded of how blessed I truly am. I have three grown boys who are my anchors in this life, a peaceful homelife, a dog and a kitten who think I am the ultimate feeder, friends who remind me of my purpose and a connection to the Divine that sustains me amidst the chaos of this world. All my blessings came into view with his response.  I smiled and said, “Yes, I am blessed too, thank you for the reminder!”

He then said, “So many people forget, you see it in their faces.” His name is Darnell, which means “hidden” and I think he is one of the wisest people I have met in a long time.  Working with the public is a daunting task, the interactions can be so impersonal, but here is a hidden beacon of wisdom ready to remind us, “we are blessed!”

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Kitten from Heaven

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Sometime ago I decided it was time for another kitty.  I dreamt that my father, who has passed came to me with two kittens as an offering. It was one of those dreams that felt like a visit, like I had actually spent time with my Dad.  One of my childhood memories was him taking me to pick out a kitten, the sign “free kittens” was on the side of the road and I had spied it earlier when out on errands with my Mom.  My Dad was not a cat person, although he loved animals, we had a pony, chickens and dogs to boot.  That evening he drove me in his VW bug to the place where the sign was, I picked out a beautiful calico female, I don’t remember her name, I think I was in the first or second grade. So, when my Dad visited me recently with an offering of kittens I thought perhaps he was arranging something….

I went to several shelters, filled out applications even agreed to take a stray, but everything fell thru.  This past week I gave up, but for some reason though I left the cat carrier in the car. Tuesday afternoon I got a text that there was a kitten in desperate need of a home, she was found roaming around by some kind-hearted people who couldn’t keep her, and the shelter was full. She needed placement that very night, so I agreed to take her sight unseen.  It was just a feeling I had, she was meant for me.  Just so I was sure SPIRIT sent me two signs, first the lady who contacted me is named Celeste- which means, heavenly! The second sign was she lived off Hyannis St. I grew up on Cape Cod and Hyannis is one of the well-known towns.

Misty Lou is a doll, loves people, is playful and purrs. Abby our dog is so excited to have a new friend and she is slowly warming to her. No one seems to know where she came from, but I do. Thanks Dad!

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Stories we tell ourselves

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How we define who we are is often generated by our past experiences. In hospice we often encourage people to share their stories, their “life review”.  Humans love stories, oral tradition has been alive since the experience of conversation.  Storytellers are found in all cultures, people who would express the experience of their culture.  The Bible is full of stories, allegories, to teach us, to help us better understand the human condition, our place and our connection with Spirit.

So often when people who are dying tell me their stories, these are most often the stories of LOVE, moments in their lives that made their life meaningful, deep.  The true essence of who they are and will forever be.  The focus on LOVE is essential to finding PEACE in our hearts.  FORGIVENESS is a path to PEACE.

So, throughout my day, I find sometimes I tell myself stories that are not based in LOVE.  I tell myself stories of being wronged, past hurts, unforgiveable slights, painful moments.  When I do this, I give power back to those moments, I infuse them with my energy, draining myself.  If I focus on stories of LOVE, moments that brought me JOY, I am fed, my soul is full.

Personally, the little voice in my head often likes to conjure up the trials and tribulations that I have endured.  The little voice in my head gravitates towards the past that causes me to relive the pain. I now tell the little voice, if you were a friend, a physical friend, I would not want to spend time with you as you my little friend are a downer.  This sometimes quiets that little voice.  A mute button would also be helpful.

We all have moments of challenges, painful memories, that’s life.  Here is where the stories we tell ourselves are so important.  Moving through and beyond painful things is essential for our own well-being.  The past cannot be changed, only how we relate to it can.  Giving energy to a situation that already hurt us, rekindling the fire of pain is pointless.  It changes nothing and sucks the JOY from our day.  Here is where FORGIVENESS arrives, it is something to practice, like the scales in piano lessons, it gives us a foundation to write a new song, a new and lovely melody that fills us with GRATITUDE.  It is a gift to ourselves, it is worth unwrapping.  FORGIVENESS is not forgetting, it is releasing the energy that we associate with the story, it is saying, yes this happened, but I no longer focus on it, I no longer feed its effect on me, I release it from my heart to make room for things that enrich my HEART and SOUL.  FORGIVENESS is a form of self-care, self-love. Yes, we are worthy, and loveable. When we LOVE ourselves, and care for ourselves, the world responds in kind.  Truly FORGIVENESS is the path to PEACE.

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