Sunday, June 24, 2012

Discarded Dreams

It was a heavy week.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm the right person for the job.  I was irritated and asked my husband if I really seemed that approachable, like the kind of person someone could just break down and bawl in front of and talk about ending their life and he said yes.  Not what I wanted to hear.  I had put in some long days that week already and wanted an easier Friday, a half day.  I wanted to go home and spend time with my kids, but first thing that morning I found myself seconds away from calling the police.  Nothing was going according to plan.

The man's tears had flowed, his despair evident and for good reason, but when words of hope and the future crept back in and talk of sin, eternal damnation and merely the desire to be anywhere but here, not really wanting to die, I put the phone back in my pocket.  Instead I rallied his family, friends, the cleaning lady dressed head to toe in white.  I told her she was an angel, and had arrived at just the right time.  I wanted to squeeze her.  I squeezed him instead and eventually walked out breathing deep, reassured he would be okay.

My 91 year-old hospice patient earlier in the week talked again about how she once had beautiful handwriting as she struggled to write her initials for me.  She had yearned to be a journalist, but married at twenty and her life changed, her position switched to that of wife and mother.  The either/or plight of women back then I hear time and again.  "When I was younger I wanted to....but then I got married and had kids...." and you know the rest of the story.  This woman wrote profusely anyway, short stories she said, all tucked away in the attic for years until one day her daughter threw them all out.  My heart sank as she told me and I saw the look of sadness in her blue eyes.

Another hospice patient, this time thirty-three was sleepy from morphine during the visit.  I was afraid of his peace and courage.

Why all of this in one week?  I've felt like giving up before, who hasn't?  The challenge is to keep motoring on, putting one foot in front of the other despite the obstacles.  I've done that.  It's crucial to remember our blessings along the way.  We're the lucky ones, some folks are out of time after only thirty-three short years.  I do get it and I try to be grateful every day.  But what has me the most anxious and unsettled is the thought of living for 91 years and leaving behind an attic full of dreams to one day be discarded, forgotten, or worse yet overlooked.

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