I have been blessed to be a nurse for over twenty-years of my life. As I type that very sentence I actually am crying over the lives that I have taken care of. Many of my years were in bedside nursing with cancer patients. They were always so grateful for the care you provided them, but in reality the gratitude was from me. They touched my life in ways I could never explain. Their courage, their strength, their resolve is second to none. They opened their hearts completely, because when you know your diagnosis can lead to death, you really have NOTHING to loose. However, we are all going to die with or without a cancer diagnosis.
I mentioned in my last blog about the four women I know fighting cancer, and one lost that fight just a day after my blog. It truly breaks my heart. I didn’t really know her well, but I know that she had an amazing family and children that she left behind as she walked through the gates of heaven. She was a nurse and I am sure she will be met not just by family and friends, but all the lives she cared for that preceded her to heaven. I know how hard loosing a mom is and cry at just the thought of the pain. I know how hard my mom’s death was on her mother (Grandma Frazee) and my dad. But, I cling to the many memories of my mom and the life she lived and taught me.
I held the hands of many patients and their families through diagnosis, through treatment, and death. In fact, I can close my eyes and see the room number and give you names. When I worked at the bedside it was easy to remember how fragile life was, as I had the daily reminder. I still see some patients that I cared for in the community or recently when someone was visiting a family member. I saw him and knew his face and even his room number. He laughed. Those I don’t see physically I can close my eyes and see I could honestly name hundreds and the memories we shared. Maybe I need to close my eyes a little more often to remember them and to honor them.
As I mentioned, we are all guaranteed death. Most patients would say how the diagnosis was the wake up call for priorities. I have also taken care of trauma patients who never got the “Wake up call’ but were still faced with a life altering event. The hardest were probably the ones who did not survive an unexpected event (trauma, heart attack, stroke, etc..) and never had the chance to say everything, do everything, reprioritize, etc. I think of even my mom, whose life was taken early. But prior to her life being taken, so was her walking and ability to care for her family and herself.
I see death many days still in my nursing career. I also have 3 close friends/family diagnosed with breast cancer just this year. However, so many days of my life I live like it cannot happen to me. I don’t live to the fullest. I hold back on dreams and desires. I waste hours each week on things that will not matter. I get wrapped up in drama that is not necessary. I let too much time pass before I reach out to family / friends. I let my heath go because of course obesity and diabetes won’t kill me. I let my life and home be cluttered by things that hold no value. I hold back on my hugs, love, and laughter. I don’t slow down as much as I need to. I get absorbed into the daily news and let it depress me. I don’t make the memories because I don’t have time (really I don’t make time). My priorities are often out of order. The list continues…
Why is it I often need the BIG events to wake me up and re-evaluate. I have many in my memory bank. But, unfortunately, I quickly get back into the daily rhythm of life and go back to living my daily life and throwing away many precious moments. I have always felt I should not let someone’s diagnosis or death be in vain. I love seeing fundraisers for a great cause, scholarships established in honor of a loved one, etc. Their life, their fight, their battle should be my wake up call. For my mom, I should walk everyday and praise God that I can. For those who are no longer here, I should hug more, love more, and make sure my words and actions count. I have watched my friends with breast cancer continue to praise God through the storm while being honest of how tough the battle. I should let their battle permanently stamp an imprint on my heart to LIVE LOUDER, LOVE HARDER, HUG TIGHTER, DREAM BIGGER, DO BETTER, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
My prayer, Dear Lord, is first you comfort those who has a loved one who now resides with you. Wrap your loving arms around them so tight they can feel your breath. May their life and those who continue the battles, the struggles, be a daily/constant lesson and reminder to me that life on this earth and in this body is temporary. Help me honor them by living my life intentionally to the fullest without excuses. May the close of every day I reflect and know I honored them, my family, my friends. That I was in fact a good and faithful servant. And anytime I slack into my old ways, may I be (gently) reminded of the preciousness of every moment. Thank you for new mercies everyday.