Before I worked as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse, I worked for some time as a Long Term Care nurse at a local nursing home. I also did some in home hospice nursing privately. I bonded with so many patients and families, and my heart was broken a little each time I saw the eyes of sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and all the others as they left their visits. Someone special, ever-present, eternal in your life slips away a little at a time. Sometimes it is a quiet thing. Other times it is sudden and shocking.
I am not sure why it is that we never see the inevitable need to care for our parent coming. You would certainly think it would be obvious to us. We watched our mothers and fathers struggle with what to do for their own parents; somehow we remain disassociated from it though, as if it were simply a channel we passed while surfing late night television. Every so often are given a glimpse into our future and handed a second chance to really evaluate what is important to us.
If you are ever that fortunate, do not waste the opportunity. Remember every day to love your family. Love your friends. Love your life. It is a precious thing. The clarity that come to us when we grieve a loss is a beautiful and rare gift if given to us while our loved ones remain with us.
To my family : I love you. Every one of you. Yes, even you, my antisocial cousin whom I haven’t seen in umpteen years. Even you, my reclusive aunt who moved house and forgot to let any of us know. You people live in my heart, even when we don’t speak or see each other for what seems like eons. We share blood, and history, and who each of us is today is affected at least in part by all of the rest of us. I am going to make it a priority and a personal mission to tell each and every one of you in the next year that I love you, appreciate you in my life, and find out how you are doing.