Day 2: Standing outside a closed door for the first time. Trying to knock on my first door, but having trouble getting my hand to obey my brain. I repeat to myself, “This won’t be easier tomorrow. This won’t be easier tomorrow.” Until I knock.
The first door doesn’t open. The second door hides someone who doesn’t want to talk to me. The third door leads to an awkward conversation, which turns into a meaningful conversation, which turns into a friendship.

Day 4: I am asked to go in and hold the hand of a very sick woman. She can’t speak, and she can’t hear me, but I read a psalm anyway. In the end I just hold her hand, look into her blue eyes and smile, letting a hope that I know can only be from Christ sit on my face.
The next day, I come into work and find out she has died. I might have been the last person to spend quality time with her.
Two days later, nearly the same thing happens.
I don’t know these women’s stories, or families, or lives. I can’t even make their funerals. So many others have watered, planted, harvested, mostly before I was even born. It’s a terrifying privilege to have those moments with them, something I couldn’t arrange if I wanted to, and that it’s no use trying to live up to.

Week 3: Every morning this week, I have to peel a miserable, sick, crying baby off my hip and hand her to my capable but exhausted sister. We find out on Wednesday that she has a UTI. She is just so miserable, and I know separation anxiety is part of her misery. Am I prolonging her illness by continuing to leave?
A week later I sit down with a lovely lady with dementia who is starting to cry. She mentions her daughter and I immediately start crying with her.

Yesterday: I am told (not in so many words) that a lovely man, with whom I have had two meaningful conversations, would rather watch the weather channel than talk to me. I giggle to myself when I leave. We all have introverted days.

Today: I have my best visit yet with a woman I heartily enjoy (thanks not a little to a visit with the invigorating M), but who seems to be alienating everyone from her. The tragedy of dementia’s encroach is slowly dawning on me. I don’t want to accept that this new friend is self-sabotaging not because of a spiritual or psychological ailment that I can help, but because of a progressive and terminal disease that has already diminished her mind beyond recovery.

All I can offer you, friends, is these snippets. CPE is as relentless as it is rewarding. I am learning to go to new lengths to take care of myself when I need to, because there is precious little breathing room. I fantasize about having enough time to do things like vacuum and bake. I went three days without knitting a stitch before I even noticed. This will end, but I can only guess (and hope) that the life I get back at the end of these ten weeks will be a somewhat different one.

One thought on “Snippets

  1. Thanks for the glimpse into your days. Even when I’m up there babysitting, there is precious little time to talk about stuff. I’m proud of you giving yourself in this way that is so hard….it takes a lot of courage.


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