This month has been a roller coaster of emotion.... I have gone from recognizing that my anxiety and depression were rearing their heads, to treating it accordingly, to feeling some relief, to now being stuck in a place of measurable sorrow.
It started last Thursday... I was walking a patient, his mother and her friend to another area of the hospital when the mother's friend began to talk about her daughter with Down's Syndrome. We were discussing how lovable and amazing children with Down's Syndrome are and my breathe was almost completely taken away as I was flooded with memories of one of my little angels who went to heaven at the end of last year. He was three and had Down's Syndrome. What kept replaying in my mind was the way he would greet me every time he came to the clinic. My desk sits directly back from the patient check-in area, so all I have to do is turn around to see who is coming and going. As soon as he would walk through the door, I would turn around and start walking that direction. He would run into my arms while blowing kisses to me. He was a GIANT tiny little ball of love. All love and all charm... He would blow kisses to me every time we saw each other.
I miss those kisses, I miss seeing his smiling face and I miss the fact that I didn't get to see him grow up.
I have been flooded with memories of many of my sweet angels. Unfortunately, the nature of my job is sometimes tragic and deeply sad. Children are not supposed to die before their parents and while we cure so many more than we don't (80%), we still send far to many on to heaven. I have learned over the years how to deal with the loss and what I need to do in order to continue to do this sacred work... my calling... one of the reasons I am on this earth. I pray a lot, I allow the tears to flow when necessary, I exercise, I treasure the time I have with my own children, I honor their memories and tell the beautiful stories of their lives to those who want to hear, and I remain connected to their families.
Since the beginning of this year and the start of all of the turmoil at work, I have been largely in survival mode, doing my best to help hold a practice together in the midst of transition. I haven't really taken the time to grieve a couple of our recent losses (patients that I was the primary nurse for) and for some reason it has become clear that NOW is that time. One of whom was my sweet little guy above...
Another was a lively little girl that fought long and hard for several years. She was wise beyond her young years and she lit up every room she entered. She was brutally honest in every moment... including the time she clicked her hearing aids off when she didn't want to hear her mom's answer to a request. She was an absolute gift to her family and to all of us. She predicted how she would go to heaven a couple of weeks before she did and we all agreed that the party really got started in heaven on the day she arrived. I miss seeing her strut into the office and I miss all of her "one-liners"...
In many ways I feel like both of these angels have been sitting on my shoulder beckoning me to remember... beckoning me to grieve... beckoning me to shed the tears I didn't shed months ago. AND, reminding me to appreciate life. Reminding me to appreciate my children and their near perfect health. Reminding me to cherish the smiles, hugs and fun. Reminding me how important my work is and how important my role in these kiddos and their families lives is. Reminding me that I really am human. Reminding me that while important to temper and control, emotion is an important part of life.
So, tonight I did what I often do... I rented a movie that I knew would call forth my tears. It may sound strange, but sometimes the best way to let the flood gates fly open is for me to watch a show or a movie that I know will "hit home"... I spend so much time keeping it all in check and controlled, that it can be difficult for me to release the emotions. Cry and cry some more is where I wound up... And here I am, sharing my story.
I know that many of you may have incredible difficulty fathoming why and how I do what I do... voluntarily. It is an honor, and the best way to describe it is that it is a part of me, a part of how God made me and a large part of my purpose on this earth. One of the biggest lessons I learn daily is to really appreciate the gifts I have, the people in my life, my children and spouse. I don't have a high tolerance for minutia and petty little things that so much energy is expended worrying about.
So, thank you for reading my ramblings and thank you for your support and encouragement over the past weeks. I am continuing to find my way through it all. Go hug your children and/or significant other.