Fair warning – this is one of my soap boxes. I wrote a while back about my experience visiting a hospice unit in the Columbus Prison medical facility. Read about it here.
Last week I was visiting my friend Caitlin and stealing snuggled from her adorable baby boy is 5 weeks! I can’t believe he’s already 5 weeks, he’s my “nephew” meaning the family counts me as one of their own, and his momma refers to me as auntie amber and it makes me happy. Anyway, I was visiting and Caitlin’s mom calls to update her on grandpa. I was also close with grandpa. I went over there almost every Sunday my senior year of high school, some Sundays my freshman year and several Sundays over the last 3 years. They would do family dinners, and I would go over there – free food and good company, how could you say no? Anywho, grandpa wasn’t doing well on Friday, so they sent him to the hospice home in Columbus. By the end of the weekend the family had decided to do comfort care only for grandpa. The docs determined he most likely had a TIA (transient ischemic attack ie mini stroke) on Friday and another more major stroke on Saturday evening. And the family determined it would be best for comfort care only at that point.
For a week family kept vigil at grandpa’s bedside praying rosaries and divine mercy chaplets. He was never alone.
One of the things that struck me about my time in the prison was the Stephen’s Ministers program they offer for inmates. This program allows men to sit at the bedside of other men as they are dying – read them letters, hold their hand, pray with them — preserve their dignity.
For the last week I was struck by the beauty of all that was going on – the family just keeping a constant vigil at grandpa’s bedside. Sure, different family members took turns but someone was always there, in addition to the hospice nurses. There was doubt that this man was loved, treasured and cherished at the moment of his passing.
I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this – but maybe in the midst of all the tragedy in this nation, in this world – in the midst of all this trauma with shootings, and accidents we need to be reminded that all of us are people. All of us have inherit dignity and worth. Each of us should have someone who reminds us we are loved when we doubt, hold our hand when we are scared. Pray for us to be lead into the arms of Jesus. May we remember today the reality of our humanity, and our worth within that. Know you are loved and you are not alone.