You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘compassion’ tag.

“Well, it’s official, Liz,” the hospice nurse said, her smiling dark eyes peering over her mask. I sensed good news coming as she unzipped her sleeveless quilted vest and sat opposite the Valentine bouquet on my dining room table. “Medicare has re-certified you until mid-April. Another will follow, but unlike before, there will be no hesitation—you’re finally beginning to look like a hospice patient, both in our records and in your person.”

She was right. Despite eating regularly, my weight continues to drop due to poor metabolism sloughing off the nutrients. Other than smaller pants my sister bought me last November, I’m loathe to replenish what’s hanging in my closet. My belt buckle holds everything together and keeps me presentable. Bulky sweaters of many colors cover a lot. Rather than pitch an old pair of blonde corduroys, this morning, my helper patched the hole in the seat; such still keeps February’s nip at bay.

Besides, my new slimness is quite the fashion, from what I observe online.

When I reflect upon my clothes history, a close look at trends had directed my choices and expended money, better used for other things, especially charities that I traipsed by. Only in later years, the ugliness of department store clothing drove me to significant finds at Goodwill or the Scholarshop.

Aside from this trivia about clothing, a time will come when I step outside of time and have no need of clothing. For the present, though, it’s about preparing my wedding garment, one day at a time. This, I cannot do alone.

It was February 1, 2022, an overcast day, twenty-eight months since my sign-up to receive hospice care for my diagnosis of Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The doorbell rang. It was the hospice nurse practitioner to evaluate my continue participation that occurred every six weeks, given the Medicare protocol for my disease and treatment.

During our last evaluation, my insides had jellied when she said, “Liz, you continue doing so well, perhaps too well. Not much decline since our last being here.” She looked away, then added putting away her stethoscope, “We’ll certify you for another benefit period, then re-evaluate next month. Now, you’re not to worry. We’ll work this out.”

But I did. I still remembered the compassionate response of the ER doctor that Halloween morning, 2019, “You’ve come to the right place, Liz. From here on out, palliative care will serve your medical needs. No more going to hospitals for tests. No more doctors’ offices.”

Only after the nurse left did I learn the difference between hospice and palliative care: Patients not ill enough to qualify for hospice and too ill to benefit from home care services. Perhaps that’s where I belonged.

Yet, hospice did pick me up.

“I said this would work out,” the nurse practitioner said, her eyes smiling behind her mask. “We’re going to hold on to you, after all. That new medication for your breathing warrants our continued surveillance.”

I smiled, another experience of God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

It was 1957. Near midnight, shivery blasts rattled the convent’s double casement windows and dumped mounds of snow upon blue spruces and towering oaks. Swirling, cracking, snapping sounds rubbed against the erstwhile silence and quickened the steps of hundreds of black-laced low-heeled shoes along the long hardwood floors, polished for the occasion: New Year’s Eve. The swish of long black choir cloaks fastened at the chin heightened the drama.

Further ahead, I made out the great doors of the Gothic chapel opening out to the older nuns who bowed before the Superior, toed the wooden kneelers of their choir stalls, knelt down, and opened their libers. As the procession inched toward the chapel, steam sizzled from occasional radiators affording oases of warmth.

Four months into my postulancy in the noviceship, I watched, bug-eyed, so as not to make a mistake. Finally, I opened my liber with the others and waited for the pitch pipe’s tone from the Mistress of the Choir. After I adjusted my wool skirt on the kneeler, I gazed at the sanctuary, where thick beeswax candles shadowed the altar and other furnishings.

Then a short beep signaled everyone to grab their opened libers and stand facing each other as the Miserere was intoned, a psalm pleading God’s forgiveness for sins committed in the year, 1957. Then, followed another ancient Latin hymn, the Te Deum, heartfelt thanksgiving for its graces.

Just as the tower bell gonged midnight, the Jesuit celebrant began Mass, in union with the praying church all over the world. No matter the blight of racial integration in our country, no matter Sukarno’s expulsion of the Dutch from Indonesia, no matter the world’s excesses—deep Peace’s embrace revealed another realm and we were in it.

I’ve never forgotten that night.

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: