Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Problem with Falling in Love

There is a downside, you know.

By now my husband has gotten used to me falling in love with random old men - well, at least with ones in the nursing home where I work once a week.  (This summer, I am there much more than once a week!  Covering for people on holidays.)

The problem with falling in love is that it is so hard to watch them suffer and die.

My favorite, the Scottish gentleman who endearingly calls me "my little half and half" (because I am mixed nationalities, and to whom I always answer back laughingly that that sounds like a jug of cream!) is dying.  At least, at this point, I hope he is dying soon.  He is suffering - the agonizing, painful suffering of a diabetic dying.  Besides the diabetes causing severe pain in the limbs he has left, he also has tumors in very painful locations and a few ulcers.  He has reached the point where we minister to him while he dies, but there is nothing to be done to fix him.  It is painful to watch.

I left his bed with tears in my eyes tonight.  It is going to be hard to watch the next few weeks.

I moved him to wash him tonight and got only a string of curses and groans.  Every little thing brought pain.  At the end, when I had him settled, and the room cleaned up again, I came over to his bed, leaned down, put my hand on his arm and rested my cheek against his forehead and was still.  His breathing quieted, and he whispered, "I just want to die."  I told him that I know he does, and I am sorry he hurts so much.  He took a few more breaths and then his muffled voice came out of the dim room, "You are a lovely girl, little half and half."  I smiled, and quietly left him to drift to sleep.

The problem with falling in love is that it is so hard to watch them die when death comes slowly with pain.

There are people who say it is simply better not to love them, not to get attached to a patient... but I do not agree with them.  These people spend their last few years with us... some families visit, some do not, but we are the ones they see on a daily basis.  I would rather love them and let them spend their last years loved than not love them only to shield my heart.

But it is hard.

Pray for this man.  He knows he is dying, and some days the thought of death terrifies him.  I have shared my hope with him.  I will continue to share with him.  Pray that the last gift I can give him is the hope that I have.  And pray that God is merciful to him as we walk through these next weeks.

1 comment:

Alan & Beth McManus said...

My sister and her husband do elder foster-care in their home. Several people have intimated to her that she is being unfair to her children in bringing an "old person" into their home because they will learn to love these people only to lose them. Her response was so good. Losing, dying, grieving is a part of life. I don't want to shield my children from life. How can I deny them the opportunity to love and to show God's love?

They are dealing with the grief part now as their current guest is getting too far gone in dimentia for them to properly care for her and soon will need to go into a care facility. It is hard to let go.

I will pray for a speedy home-going for your friend and for comfort for you.