Being a hospice nurse is a lot like raising a strong willed toddler. There can be vast shifts in mood without notice… laughing and crying often find the sweet spot where the lines blur. So many things are out of your control.. try as you might, be as proactive as you can, without a doubt there are always explosive unexpected happenings that leave you questioning your abilities. In both situations, there are always people around the toddler or the patient that are quick to offer their unsolicited advice, which if you are an anxious sort like me, make you start wondering if they think you are inept and failing. Both are phenomenal journeys that often move so quickly that while caught in the middle of the storm, you forget to stop and take a look around.
Today, I stopped. Not that it was planned or I did it consciously. It was a gorgeous day. The drive to my patient’s house took me through back roads and up a blooming mountain. The sun shared its golden rays, bathing my car in a visible glow. As I drove, I began thinking about my patients and all of the depths of emotion witnessed. I have been at this for a few years and even I still question if I should play this role. But, in that moment, it was like every puzzle piece fit together. I am where I should be.
My writing has been called “raw” and “unfiltered”. No disagreement from me, as this is exactly how I want it. My blog is my sounding board… my confessional. It is the place I bare my soul, mostly about how this unique nursing role has forever altered who I am.
Have I had days that I have thought of quitting? For sure. I was so convinced, on a few occasions, that this so wasn’t for me that I went as far as to find different jobs, but, that gnawing little voice that I happen to believe is the Universe, kept whispering what I know to be the truth. You cannot leave this. You are right where you are meant to be.
I have come home sobbing. I have come home smiling. I have come home exhausted. I have come home fulfilled. I have come home empty. I have come home certain that there was no possible way I could face another day in this role. I have come home grateful. I have come home numb. I have come home angry. I have come home inspired. I have come home defeated.
Then, there are days like today where nature spilled her beauty and my heart realizes that this is my path. Not many can say that they have actually felt the love two people have for each other. The moments where a husband holds the hand of his dying wife and she reaches over to wipe away his tear. The moment where one half of a life long friendship is getting ready to transition and whispers softly “Don’t worry, we will make lots of memories in Heaven.” That is love that is palpable and tactile.
Hospice nurses are used to the reactions we get when we tell people what we do. It’s that swirl of pity, sympathy and confusion. It’s the eye squinty “Ohhhh”. It’s ok that we will never get the “Oh my God! Your job sounds amazing.” Not everyone will understand it. Not everyone will agree with it. But, if you get it, you know that forever will be altered.
Your heart will experience emotions that will never be properly explained. Your eyes will bear witness to miracles. You will hear, see, feel and experience love, happiness, sadness and loss to depths so vast simple words would never do them justice.
There will be awful days.
There will be phenomenal days.
But, hold tight, my friends.
You are meant to do this.
You are right where you are supposed to be.
You are right where you are needed the most.