I remember well the first time I came to your home. I was a nurse of many years, but had just taken a home hospice position, and your husband was my first admission. You greeted me at the door with your faithful companion, Sammy, alongside you. Several friends and family members sat around the table. All eyes were on me, and the questions came from every direction. I was nervous. I wanted to do everything correctly, making sure all of the equipment, medications, and staff were in place to provide for every anticipated need. I wanted you to trust me. I wanted your husband to feel comfortable with me caring for him.
Twelve-hour shifts were what I was used to at the hospital. Now there would be only weekly visits – yet, I had no idea how well I’d get to know you, your husband, your family – your dog! It’s been nearly a year. Each week I’ve looked forward to our visits. I’ve watched you care so meticulously well for your husband – so selflessly, always putting his needs before yours. I’ve listened to you laugh when he thinks you’re his sister, but have also heard you cry when he remembers you. And, I’ve watched him in all of his confusion, and have always been convinced that he feels safe at home with you. And at the end of the day – does it really matter whether or not he remembers Joe Biden is president, the year is 2021, and it’s the month of July? I don’t personally think it does. I think it matters that he trusts you, and that he feels loved. What the heck else really matters, anyways?
Thank you for inviting me into your space – into the intimate memories you and your family have made over the decades of enjoying your lives together. Thank you for opening up photo albums and letting me get a glimpse into the memories you’ve built having children, and taking vacations, laughing at your old bell bottom blue jeans and silly 70 style hair-do’s, and allowing me to listen to you reminisce and laugh! Thank you for always making me feel welcome and sharing those things with me.
I know you’re hurting. But I also know that some of the most difficult decisions you have to make, are the most loving and selfless decisions. You haven’t failed – not even close! You’re living out your vows, staying faithful through each and every difficult change… And the fine job you both did in raising your family is reflected in how well your daughter cares for you now. It’s a new season.
My oldest son has been married nearly seven years, and his brother is preparing to marry his gal in a few short months. I don’t have a successful marriage of my own to model for either of them, nor do I understand the love you feel for your husband, or the grief you’re walking through – so I won’t insult you by saying I understand. I don’t. I never will.
But, thank you. Thank you for modeling to me what I should, and can, and will pray that both of my sons have – the kind of marriage that hangs in there through sickness and health, in rich times, poor times, the good times, and the hard times…
That day long ago when I met you and Sammy at the door – I thought I was coming to walk alongside you and your husband during his last days, but I had no idea you were going to teach me how to pray for my sons.
What a gift you are to my family and I… and they don’t even realize it.
…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…
I want you to know…. you’re doing it right. And I’m so glad God saw to it that our paths should cross. Chin up, my friend.