Harry 8/18/17

  Image Above: Beach sand magnified 250 times

  Last time, I wrote about the importance of taking a moment and “taking a knee” to acknowledge the human being in our care; of looking beyond the chart, if you will, to honor our common humanity. It’s easy to lose sight of that when care providers are running on empty, overwhelmed and skating on the edge of frustration as so many do. And yet, we too are only human, and some days, that doesn’t feel like enough. I’d been thinking a lot about that this past week – and then this poem found its way into my inbox, sent along via a friend. Coincidence? I think not.

            It takes the words of someone as thoughtful and caring as Heidi O’Neil to remind us of the profound and – yes - holy nature of what we undertake in caring for the dying, and to remind us how much they give us in the process.  They are our teachers.

            Every death is different; every death is the same.  Sand all looks the same on the beach, but when it’s photographed through a microscope, its infinite colors and dazzling variety are revealed. The difference lies only in our ability to see it; the miracle of its beauty was always there. This lovely poem was written by a hospice volunteer who saw past the chart to the humanity of her patient – and who took a knee...

Harry 8/8/17

by Heidi O’Neil

With the crash of thunder and rain against the window, you were gone.

Your heartbeat lingered precious minutes more

Your last breath gave way to silence

Gone was the wheezing
The weakened limbs
And lungs
Sadly too, your stories
Your funny disposition
Your kind eyes,
And your many acts of grace

I still catch you in my midst
I smile as i feel your nudge
You taught me much as you lived your last days - with humility, strength, kindness, patience

You taught me the power of love

The peace we can share in our final days

The strength of our stories

The importance of repeating them

We shared a lifetime in days
An intimacy in moments
Connection in a whisper 

Now you stand beside me - a messenger of how to help others

I listen intently

Although I say goodbye for now,
I forever hold you close
For in the end, I whispered I love you
You whispered it back
Our hands clutched as you breathed your very last breath

And I cemented you deep in my heart 

In the space between thoughts
Was the vision of your boyish grin
Your giant wave
Signaling your release from this plane
This pain
Our young legs ran free
And together we crossed the bridge that finally delivered you home


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