Sunday, July 17, 2011
Everything Happens for a Reason
“I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.” ~Mother Teresa
God definitely threw us a hardball yesterday. Saturday morning we all went to the hospice for my teaching project. While I did my project with Deisy, Coco and Renee (the ONLY 3 hospice nurses), the other girls were going to do wound care and whatever else needed to be done. I first off didn’t have a translator present so my professor and I had to work together to explain what I had planned. For those of you I didn’t talk to before I left, my teaching project was on death, grief and how to cope. As I was talking to the nurses I had noticed that Deisy, who is always smiling, just staring and I could see in her eyes that she was not all there. She had such a numb look on her face but I figured maybe she had a hard night at home or it was something else because she was answering all my questions and participating in everything. So I kind of just shrugged it off and kept going on with my presentation. I was about halfway through when someone knocked at the door. Coco got up and then walked with the man into the main part of the hospice. I had met him once before, he was the son of David, one of the patients. As I was making this connection, Renee had started talking and was tearing up and I knew at the moment what had happened. We had all knew it was coming but I never thought we would be here when it happened. I had seen Meg, Maria and Chelsea walk by the nurse’s station crying so Dr. Belknap and I ran out and followed them into David’s room. I wasn’t expecting all of the conflicting feelings that would be happening in the next couple of hours. I don’t think there is any way I can really describe how I was feeling.
We helped the nurses prepare him and put him in a royal purple robe. I was shocked that I was actually seeing my first dead patient but kind of happy that I wasn’t hysterically crying like I thought I would. I then looked around the room and what made me cry was seeing how upset everyone else was, especially Coco, Deisy and Renee. I hate seeing people that I care about cry, which is one thing that automatically triggers tears for me. The nurses had always been so happy and lively, even amongst all the work and stress in their lives. I have grown to respect and look up to these women, so to see them break down like this really made my heart hurt. I also couldn’t stand seeing the three other girls crying and trying as hard as they can to hold the floodgates from opening. Next thing I know a coffin is being carried into the room. The lid was taken off and Coco motioned to us to grab the sides of David’s blanket. We then lifted him up and placed him in the casket, this is when reality hit. This wasn’t a dream, I wasn’t acting this out, this was really happening. I was placing my first dead patient into their casket. I knew this day would happen but I expected it after a couple years of working. I never thought I would be twenty when I experienced this, let alone in a third world country, thousands of miles from my family and support system. We then watched David’s son and another man carry the casket out, place it in their car and then drive away. It then all of a sudden hit me that this was the whole reason why Desiy looked so numb and preoccupied during my presentation. An immense feeling of guilt came over me because I had made them all sit there and listen to me babble on while all of this was still registering in their heads. This was my breaking point, and I just started to cry. I knew in my head that talking about death and confronting it is the best way to cope with it, I mean that is what I was teaching them about but for some reason it killed me knowing that I put them through that.
We all got together and held each other for a little bit. Coco then started saying that even though David was like a father to them and they are really upset, she has to go into the other patients’ rooms with a smile and pretend it never happened. As true as her statement was, my heart dropped knowing that because it is only the three of them, none of them will really get time to grieve because they always have to work. As sad and traumatic it may have been for us, we didn’t know David like them AND we get to go home and have time to grieve with each other. Let alone in a week we get to go back to our cushy lifestyles in the U.S and they still will be here living in the pueblos and working at the hospice. On top of feeling like this they felt bad that we had to stop my presentation and wanted me to continue. Since I was close to finishing anyways I just decided I would give them all hand and back massages since hand massages were a part of the project anyways. I liked to think it helped a little bit but I knew they were all preoccupied. Renee had worked the night shift and had to work again at 6pm and just wanted to go home. Deisy most likely just wanted to get away and Coco was currently still working and running around worried about the other patients.
As difficult as a morning it may have been, I believed it all happened for a reason. Out of the 10 Marquette girls coming down here to teach, one (which is me) decided on teaching about coping with death to the hospice nurses. Out of the five of us here that had to do our teaching projects mine was on the morning that David had passed. It may have seemed like I was bothering and troubling Coco, Renee and Deisy to talk about it, but I was actually helping them to cope with such a tragic loss. As hard and difficult it may have been to be a part of it, this is what my career involves, especially if I want to do hospice or palliative care. And in the end, David is in a happy, much better and peaceful place with God. This memory will stick with me forever, not because I am traumatized by what happened, but because I grew more in my spiritual and emotional self than I think I have done in my twenty years of living.
A positive from yesterday was because I was surrounded by so much sadness in the morning I really branched out to the other missionaries who were here and made some great friendships. They were amazing and knowing I had a hard day, didn’t ask questions and made sure I continued to smile and laugh. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to get through the day without them. Last night we went out for ice cream and then after just sat and talked to the early hours of the morning. I honestly think I had one of the best ab workouts ever! Sad to say, they left this morning to head back to Delaware. Although it was sad to see them leave, I am so happy and blessed to have gotten to know them and spend so much time with them.