For some reason today was an emotional day for me. Every now and then, I think my cup (and eyelids) overfloweth. I'm still trying to find the balance between work and home. It doesn't really help that my 12-year-old pleads with me to stay home and take her to school which is exactly what I'd do every school day if I could continue to do so. I explained to her once again that we all have to give up things in order to keep moving forward financially. Also, there was a fatal accident on the interstate near my house, and I was late to class this morning. Then, I get there and one of today's speakers was a nurse talking about palliative (end of life) care for our patients. Now, keep in mind I get all bleary-eyed when I discharge a patient home after caring for them for a day or two. I can only imagine how I'll react when I have to deal with losing a patient. The presenter this morning did say it was okay to cry with the patient's family...it shows you're human and that you cared for their loved one. However, she also warned us not to cry harder than the family and have them consoling you instead of vice versa. Uh oh. My eyes were wet with tears during her entire presentation. As she spoke of the palliative care unit at our facility and signs of "active dying" and having difficult talks with patients and their families, I was reminded of my beloved father-in-law. Palliative care is where he spent his final days before he passed the weekend after Thanksgiving last year. A flood of emotions washed over me, but I tried hard to keep the tears from spilling over for fear that they wouldn't stop. I was seated on the front row staring at the presenter face to face. I could practically count her teeth as she spoke. If a single tear fell and she made some compassionate remark, I would have had to excuse myself and ball my eyeballs out for the rest of the presentation.
A few rogue tears did spring forth afterward as I shared with my coworker seated behind me that the presentation made me so sad I didn't know how I'd possibly deal with a "near death" patient any time soon. And here I thought I had gotten over being such a big marshmallow! I told him I was a little embarrassed that I felt like crying when no one else in the room seemed the least bit bothered by the content of the presentation (didn't mention the whole FIL bit because that would have been too much for me to verbalize and bear). He said the only reason I didn't see more tears was that I didn't turn around. He was a little tearful, too, because he is currently working on the palliative care unit and has already experienced death and dying patients..
If all of that wasn't enough, I went to church tonight to have ashes smudged on my forehead in the shape of a cross to remind me that I'd come from ashes and to ashes I would someday return. The season of Lent or the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday is a time of spiritual reflection, a time of sacrifice in memory of God's ultimate sacrifice (John 3:16). Then the choir sang Fix Me, Jesus, Fix Me. Did I ever feel like I needed some fixing today...
Fix me with a starry crown. Fix me, Jesus, fix me
Fix me with a long white robe. Fix me, Jesus, fix me
Anyone familiar with this song? Want to take a guess at the next refrain?
Fix me for my journey home. Fix me, Jesus, fix me
I thought of the victims of the car accident this morning. I thought of my patients and their families. I thought of my father in law, and I couldn't hold back the tears. Oh, how I tried to stop them! I took a deep, cleansing breath (which was kind of shuddery as I exhaled), I tried blinking my eyes to "clear" my eyeballs like windshield wipers on a drizzly day...to no avail. Realizing I had no tissues in my tiny little purse, I dabbed at my eyes with the tail of my jacket and prayed that my nose wouldn't run, too. My daughter handed me a tissue from her purse and looked the other way. I'm sure it's rather embarrassing for a pre-teen to have one's mother balling in public for no apparent reason.