Sunday, March 21, 2010

Her tender hands

Friday afternoon I recieved a phone call during my lunch break. The conversation left me in awe and tears fell freely down my face as I contemplated the events that were described to me over the phone. A good friend of my dad's, whom he met through business work, passed away peacefully Friday morning. Little sister W had a special opportunity to serve as a nurse assistant to this wonderful man during the last hours of his life as he was sent to her ICU floor. There wasn't a lot she could tell us, but some few details of tender moments she shared with him right before and after he passed.

My dad had the opportunity to speak with his friend about a week before he ended up in the hospital. He was aware that his friend was given news, not too long beforehand, that his health had taken a turn for the worse. As they spoke on the phone, it was clear that this man was feeling discouraged and didn't know how things were going to work out. Feeling inspired, dad quickly made reference to running a marathon. "You can't give up hope. You have to keep going and finish the race. You have to make it to that finish line, and when you do . . . it is like no other feeling in the world. So keep going! Don't stop now."

Days later, our family was told this man's health had declined quickly, to the point that he had ended up in the hospital on the same floor where W worked. As W went into work, dad asked if she could relay a message to his dear friend. Later that evening, when the family left momentarily from the man's room, W snuck in quietly and held his hand. He was not awake, but she spoke to him anyway "Dad wants you to remember that you have to finish the race. Finish the race . . .and finish strong."

The next morning the man passed away. As W and another nurse went in after the family said thier goodbyes, they both noticed how happy he looked. W took a moment to softly hold the man's hand and, as she describes it, be overwhelmed with feelings of love and peace. She would later tell me over the phone during my lunch break "Megs, I didn't really know him. But, I love him. He looked so happy and I know that he is free of pain now. I'm so glad I know this."

After I hung up the phone, I couldn't help but feel in awe of my sweet sister and her ability to be sensitive and connect so deeply with people. Working in the healthcare field, I've known many nurses, doctors, and other personnel. Sometimes it seems like caring for people becomes "machine-like" and you can get caught in going through the motions of policy and procedure. But I was reminded by this experience just how fragile humans are and the great task healthcare workers have to remember that fragility and not forget what it means to be a human being. This man had a family with whom he shared many sacred memories. He had a job with people he interacted with- people like my dad. They also had memories and their relationship was one of great friendship. Can we forget this as we strive to keep someone alive or help them pass on? No! It seems to me that this should be one of the main things we think about during this great work. When we are in the business of saving humans, remembering our own "human-ness" and using our ability to interact and connect with other human beings could and, I'm convinced, will be the great factor in success or failure.

W just got accepted to nursing school. I have no doubt that she will make a great nurse. Not because of her interest in human anatomy and physiology, calmness under pressure, or ease with uncomfortable situations involving human defecation, sickness, or death . . . but because of her effort and fearlessness to follow that innate ability to be a human being and care for other human beings as a human being.

I know her tender hands will be put to further great work and will be essential tools in serving fellow human beings . . .our brothers and sisters . . .God's children.

* To John and his family: We love you and you are in our thoughts and prayers continually. We know he finished the race . . .and he finished well.

2 Timothy 4:7 "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry for your families loss, but what a nice story. By the way, do you take all these pictures, because they are beautiful! Also, congrats on the job!!! Way to go. Much love!