Love

For almost two weeks I have been trying to write about our last court date.  I just felt like naturally that should be my next blog post.  But, I just can’t.  I just can’t find the words, yet.  So, maybe this blog will skip all over the place and maybe it won’t make sense, but what I post will be what is on my heart to write about at the time.

When I was in nursing school (which I never finished) I began to work as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant).  I took my first job at a nursing home.  I thought I knew what to expect as my clinical training had been at a similar type of place and that had gone well.  After my first day of work there I left crying and I never went back.  The person who was training me didn’t even treat the residents as people, they were merely a job to get done.  She encouraged me to be rough with them, and did not follow proper precautions, and told me that this was the way it had to be if you wanted to get the job done.  And after observing it seemed the rest of the staff had similar ideas.  This was not what we had learned in our training or even on our licensing test.  This was not what I pictured when I thought of taking care of people.  What about speaking to the patient, informing them of what we are doing, treating them with respect and dignity?   I didn’t know what to do, I had a new car payment to pay for and Aron and I had just bought a condo but all I knew was I couldn’t go back to that place.  My heart just couldn’t deal with seeing people being treated that way, and it being okay,  Especially people who needed someone to show them love.  I couldn’t believe the world could be that way.  And maybe I should have stayed and tried to be the person to love them, but I ran away.

At a job fair I came across a job for home health aides.  They hired me on the spot.  I was terrified at first.  What a scary concept, you walk into a stranger’s home by yourself, not knowing what to expect, not knowing them, and you have to care for them.   My first patient was a woman who had lost both of her legs and was immobile.  My first task was to get her in the shower, and they had no hoyer lift in the home.  What?  How was I supposed to do that?  They didn’t teach us that, in fact they taught us not to do that.   I was nervous that her husband would be angry that they sent such an inexperienced person to take care of his wife.  Instead, he was happy to have someone there to help and we worked together.  For some reason, they really liked me, and I loved being able to help them and be a positive part of their life.  And I had so many more patients like this.  They felt like friends.  It was more than a job, in fact it didn’t feel like a job at all.  I was surprised that I looked forward to going to visit my patients.   It didn’t seem like it should be a very rewarding job – taking vital signs, writing reports, helping with exercises and bathing. But it was.

One of my patients ended up needing to switch over to hospice care.  My supervisor asked me if I would do it, as the family said they were comfortable with me and wanted to keep me if possible.  Honestly, I didn’t want to do it.  I, like most people, am terrified of death and I doubted my ability to provide them with the care they needed.  But I did it because I knew adjusting to someone new at such a difficult time would be hard for the family.  And afterward the patient’s family told my company what a help I was.  And my company asked me to become a hospice care provider.  And for some reason I did.  And the things I learned in those few years will stay with me forever.  I had the pleasure of getting to know so many different types of people and families.  I had the privilege of showing them love when they needed it most.  Most of my patients did not pass while I was with them but many did.  Some I had only known a day and some had become friends.  I have held hands of people as they took their last breath and they had nobody else to be there.  One of my first hospice cases I think of quite often.  My patient was a married woman with no children.  Her husband was a well known attorney.  She was dying of Cancer.  To say they had a beautiful home is a major understatement.  Many people would consider that happiness, they could afford anything they could ever want.  Her condition deteriorated quickly, I was only with them for a couple of weeks.  It was an awful couple of weeks.  She was in terrible pain and kept asking and eventually screaming for her husband.  He was at work.  She died in her bed, with just the nurse and I there.  I was only 20 and didn’t know much about anything, but I was pretty sure she would have given all of the years of wealth away to have her husband there with her during those two weeks.

I got to know quite a few people at the end of their lives.  And I can say that not one of them cared much about how much money they had, or what they did for a living.  They just wanted to be around the people they loved and when they couldn’t, they loved to tell me about those people.  They loved to tell me about their parents, their spouse, about their children growing up, about birthdays, graduations, weddings, and vacations.  It is sad that a lot of times it takes death to make us realize what is most important, and some can’t even see it then.  I was lucky enough to learn through my patients.  It was a really tough job for me, I don’t think I could do it again.  I woke up from nightmares of my patients often, but I learned so much from that job. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to see the importance of love and of living life.

When I was 22, 6 months after we were married, my Dr. walked in the room and told me I may never be able to get pregnant.  I felt like a ton of bricks had been dropped on my chest.  He told us if we wanted to try and have a family it was “now or never”, and suddenly nothing else mattered to me.  We decided that I could finish school later, luckily Aron was older and already had an okay job.  And two years later we had Caleb.  And two years after that we had Noah.  We both agreed I would stay home with the boys.  I stopped working three weeks before Caleb was born.  And the plan was that when Noah started kindergarten I would go back to school.  This week I registered Noah for kindergarten.  If things were different I would have waited another year, as Noah is only going to be four when kindergarten starts and I am not sure if he is socially ready.  But now, everything is different.  Now, I have to somehow figure out how I can support us with no college degree and no recent experience.  There is no time for me to go back to school.  We were supposed to be a loving middle class family in a nice community and suddenly it seems my destiny is to be a struggling single mother who isn’t even sure where we will live or if I will have my kids.  This isn’t what I wanted and I can’t even begin to understand how we ended up here.

I made lots of mistakes.  After a rough childhood I was so determined to have a happy adulthood that I blocked out anything remotely unpleasant.  And, ironically, that set me up for some pretty bad things.  I naively believed that love could change people.  I was selfish and I believed that if I prayed for what I thought was right that I would get what I wanted.  That if I made choices with the best intentions that they would automatically work out.  I believed that if someone loved me it didn’t matter how they treated me that somehow things would all work out for the best.  I believed that people loved me the way I loved them.  I saw the world the way I wanted to see it, through rose colored glasses.

And it seems all of a sudden I have had to realize that some people can be cruel.  Some people don’t do what they are supposed to do.  People lie.  People cheat.  Police look the other way when they are supposed to protect you.  Agencies turn you away when they are told to help you.  Attorneys ignore you even after you give them every penny you have.  The people you trust the most intentionally hurt you.  People judge you when you need love the most.  And I can’t pretend these things don’t happen anymore.  I can’t pretend everything is good anymore.  Because now I have to deal with all of these things to try and make a new life for me and my boys.  But still somehow, I do believe love wins.  But my definition of winning sure has changed.  It doesn’t mean that everything is good, and it doesn’t mean that I get what I want.  It means that I will survive this and not be bitter or mean.  It means that you can hate me or judge me and I can still sincerely wish the best for you.  It means that no matter what you do to me, no matter what you take from me, you can’t take love away.

1 Corinthians 13:13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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