“If everyone else comes first, you won’t last.”
As I continue my hospice volunteer training, my knowledge about both the dying process and ways to make those that are dying comfortable, seems to grow exponentially. For instance, the pain and suffering that some people go through as they die actually anchor them to this world. Yes, they will still die eventually, but with good symptom and pain management, you can lift that anchor and help them sail on to wherever they need to go. Of course, I will not be helping in the pain management portion. As a volunteer, I’m there to listen, give comfort in my presence (I hope) or maybe even help around the house. If I can do anything at all to provide assistance to someone in their last days, or to the families that are dealing with their grief, then I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
My training and my husband’s health has prompted some overdue conversations. My husband and I talked a lot about the heavy hearts we’ve all been carrying lately. Our son and I are always on alert when we walk into our home, wondering if we’ll find my husband dead. Although my husband doesn’t want to die, he’s not afraid to. He has his faith, so what worries him more is the journey in-between life and death, the pain and suffering that often accompanies that. I talked to him about what I learned, and hospice care is all about helping with that journey, to make a person dying more comfortable and to improve their quality of life while they are still here.
Of course, we hope he still has years left, but we never know, do we? We’ve talked about having to apply for disability because we’re not sure how much longer he can work. He’s never fully recovered from his ventilator/coma horror show in 2020, but after last year’s heart attack he’s much worse. BUT he does have good days, and today was one of them. We’re in a good space today, so we’ll take it.
Besides my hospice knowledge increasing, do you know what else has grown incredibly? My bucket list!! Wait, no, my “Life To Do List.” If you have a better name, please tell me. I’m not loving the list names I’ve found so far. I chose this name though because my list isn’t all adventures or traveling. I have things like: Learn CPR and First Aid, Take Swimming Lessons, Make Homemade Pasta. But also, of course, I have: See the Grand Canyon, Go to NYC at Christmastime, Walk the Berlin Wall Trail. And within some of my activities or adventures, I have the people I want to see or spend time with. I LOVE spending time with myself, but some of these things would be so much better with people I enjoy being with. Because ultimately? Those people are what really make my life joyful. Vacationing on an island would be rad, but what would really make it spectacular is to do it with my girlfriends. Seeing the Boston Red Sox play is an experience I only want to do with my sister, and I can wear our father’s Red Sox cap and eat a hot dog in his name.
Will I get to do everything on my list? I doubt it. Even if I have the opportunity to get really old, I’ll never have the funds to do it all. Also, I have “Run a Marathon” on my list. Yeah, that shit might not ever happen. Since my distal pancreatectomy surgery, I still can’t run over 4 miles. Yet I also haven’t been training as much so….who knows, right?
Look how damn happy I am when I run or walk! This is a genuine smile. Maybe I can do the Jeff Galloway run/walk method for a marathon? I don’t know. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll keep on adding to that list. And I’d love to hear what’s on your “Life’s To Do List.” If Visit Maine is on your list, I have a couch to sleep on or a tent to sleep in. I got you. ❤