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The Bliss Blog

                                                                                       butterflydreams

In 2010, my mother was nearing the exit from this earthly incarnation. She was diagnosed with CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) and end-stage kidney disease and entered into hospice care in May of that year. Two weeks of it (if memory serves) was spent in an inpatient hospice unit of a South Florida hospital, with the balance of her time at home with services rendered there. My sister and I stayed there with her, as we witnessed her slide into her next life. The environment was serene, warm and welcoming for the patients and families/friends who visited. The staff took good care of all of us. On one wall was a sign that said, “God’s Waiting Room”.  Seeing it brought a sense of comfort, as I have a strong belief that what waits on the other side of the door is peace and a love beyond our reckoning. My mom died on November 26, 2010. She is with me so completely on a day to day basis, as is my father who passed on April 3, 2008. While I wish they were still here in body, I know that the love they embodied lives on.

The cycle continues as I am taking that same journey with my dear friend Ondreah Johnson. We met in 2006 or 2007 via a series of Hansel and Gretel Breadcrumb Trail connections. We spent countless hours laughing, playing, traveling, crying, exploring the meaning of life. Sometimes the answers were not easy to accept. Nearly two years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump on Christmas. A whirlwind of treatment ensued, and along with it, revelations about her purpose and life trajectory. Sometimes our questioning was of a WTF? nature. I consider that a spiritual question. Her attitude was, as could be expected, ebbing and flowing. Mostly, she was a strong self-advocate, asking for what she needed of the medical staff that treated her. She surrounded herself with comforting spiritual items such as prayer beads, books, and pictures of her teachers. When her hair began to fall out, she went to her hairdresser who offered a head-shaving ritual, complete with a candle and prayers. A few weeks later, she had a beautiful henna tattoo designed on her naked head. When her hair grew back, after treatment, she dyed it purple. She used empowering language to describe her journey and wanted to inspire other people facing cancer. She joined several online support groups. After finding out about a wonderful app to help cancer patients, called Cancer Life, she jumped in, feet first to endorse and promote it. It gave her a renewed purpose since she was not able to work as a home care nurse (her career for several decades).

Following the initial round of treatment, the docs declared that she was now in the survivor state. Relief and the expected, ‘what if it comes back?’ thoughts permeated her mind. That was short-lived, as she developed a cough and rib pain that led them to the conclusion that it had metastasized to one lung and then to the other. She was given an option of a clinical trial at a prestigious Philadelphia hospital on which she embarked with a renewed sense of hope. The side effects were too harsh and the results not effective. She made the difficult decision to discontinue active treatment and enter hospice. It began at home with family and friends caring for her, cooking, cleaning, taking care of her cats, giving her medication. Pain worsened which led to the need to enter inpatient care.

The gathering of the tribe who loves her has begun in earnest. As it was with the unit in which my mother was treated, this hospice unit is ashram calm. The silence is palpable and permeated my heart when I walked on to it. May her stay in God’s Waiting Room be a comfortable one and may her transition to what awaits on the other side of the threshold, be easy and grace-filled. Sweet dreams.

 

 

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