I cried on the way home today. I wasn’t expecting that.
The past few days I cared for a patient with a chronic condition. Medicine had done all it could do, and today she came to terms with that. She decided to withdraw aggressive care and seek comforting measures in the little time she had left. A difficult, yet brave and compassionate decision.
Family came to the bedside from all over, as far as California. I’ve never seen so many people in one ICU room. I could barely move inside the room, and at one point I came in to find family members criss-cross applesauce along the floor. No critical care unit could muster that many chairs, but I had to at least bring in an armload of hospital blankets they could use as cushions. The rules went out the window as newborn grandchildren arrived at the bedside to meet grandma for the first and last time, and I for one was glad. It was the most beautiful farewell I’ve witnessed in a hospital setting. Stories were reminisced, and at one point my patient said, “thank you for this. It’s like a party!”
I replied, “it is. It’s a celebration of your life.”
Daughters were there, even up until I left, holding the wrinkled hand of their sleeping mom. I couldn’t help but think of my own mother. I didn’t get to say goodbye like these women, but I did get more time. Momma should have died in the car wreck, but she soldiered on ten more years. In that decade we had a lot of fun and made some wonderful memories that I still cherish now. I didn’t cry at the bedside when that occurred to me.
I did cry on my drive home. I was thanking God for a good day. While sad, it was also beautiful, and I felt honored to have shared in the celebration of a life well-lived with a legacy of amazing family left in its wake. Yet my thoughts circled to her. Momma.
“I miss you so much,” I prayed, hoping somehow she could hear me.
I don’t guess that ever goes away. This will be the fourteenth year since her passing.
I felt that burning knot of emotion in my throat, that one I hate, yet yearn to go ahead and come out already; grief spilled to quiet the ache. At that moment I heard the song coming from my playlist.
Highs and lows, Lord, your mercy is an even flow. Should I rise or should I fall? You are faithful through it all. You’re too good to let me go.
He’s too good to let me go. He holds me always, through my grief, and through my happy memories. Losing someone you love is never easy. You never stop missing them. The ache of their empty space descends upon you when you least expect it. In the low of sentimental sorrow, and in the high of rapturous remembrance. Today I was a witness of both degrees of emotion before me, and I held in my heart the same.