after crossing the bridge

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Being a companion to those crossing bridges at the end of life does mean that eventually, I will have gone with my client as far as I can go.

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My first two long-term clients died within a few weeks of each other. I was with Miss Trish right up until the end. For her, it was difficult, she was not at all peaceful until the last day. She had major anxiety, panic attacks, delusions.

Being with her through her final weeks was a special experience. I was thankful for my previous hospice training, although this situation was much more personal, as Miss Trish and I had developed a deep bond over the years.

I didn’t realize how draining or heavy it all was until afterwards.

I wondered: How would I take the loss? Would I still want to be a caregiver?

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I had some time off, and much-needed quiet.

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I took naps and walks. I made bread. I went through pictures & notes. I cried. (I still cry sometimes.) I went to the funeral. I got hugs from her other caregivers and her daughter.

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And then a few days later, because this is just how God’s timing worked out, I went to Jamaica on my missions trip.

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Sunshine, children, the ocean, funny teenagers, winning card games, and heaps of fresh pineapple will do a lot to cheer a person up, I have to say.

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When I came back, I had three highly unique characters waiting for me to take over as their caregiver. It happened so seamlessly, as they had been my roommate’s clients before she got a new job. I just took over for her and already knew them a little bit.

I did enter in with open eyes, knowing that I would go through pain again. I also entered in with an open heart, deciding that the pain is worth it and that love is greater than loss. Yes, I still wanted to be a caregiver.

(Part I: crossing the bridge)

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monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

early fall.
a lovely day for my cousin’s wedding.
more family time.

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the quiet, unbelievably cute moments of caregiving.

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how I can’t stop running late these days. It’s much worse than usual.
our ongoing obsession with the strengths finders test.
soup & biscuits & a dessert that was a combination of basically all apple desserts: pie, dumplings, crisp, etc.
when my ideas are just brilliantly silly.
the color yellow.
the things I can’t fix.
my Goodwill expertise.
toast.

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“When you obey Me, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father and remain in His love.” -John 15:10 nlt

monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

rest and slow and lots of fishing.

a great week with family and friends in Mississippi.

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spending time with my wonderful Mamaw.

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lots of fun adventures with my brother Joe!

sunsets & sunrises on old family stomping grounds.

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so many epic table games. The best ones being when my cold-blooded Dad lost. :) In all fairness he was on a winning streak most of the week. It was sickening.

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how God worked it all out so we were there for several special family events.

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Joe’s awesome birthday gift!

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laughing so, so so so hard with/at father and brother on the road.

homemade ice cream. sweet tea. perfect weather. books. fishing. watching Jeopardy with Mamaw. goofing off with cousins. fishing. shade. grace. magnolias. conversation. fishing. safe travel. prayer. oak trees. porch swings. hymns. yard work. people who have known and loved me my entire life.

(I really do have a lot to be thankful for.) 

monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

my days of “boredom” when I was a teenager. I miss them sometimes! All that sleeping.

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my Val and my Hanner-Nanner, birthday week friends!! And yes Valerie did make a watermelon cake, because she’s amazing like that.

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late night centerpiece-making. And laughing. And overdosing on oreos.

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the fun I have with the people I get to care for on a daily basis.

babies to hold and play with!

how I can cast all my cares on God because He cares for me.

hours of music to listen to while painting my room. And a Kathy to “help” me tape.

a new phone.

birthday cards.

grill-outs and fire pits and fresh tomatoes.

my aunt’s kahlua cake. Yep it is delicious flavor.

friends who helped with moving and who apparently think they are funny.

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The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him. -ps. 28:7

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monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

ice cream.

watermelon.

my funny cousins!

when I look back at some things and think, yes, wow that was so very tough… but also see God’s faithful love shining through even then.

grace and patience.

the older ladies in my life, and their friends, I have a good bunch right now!

work! And lots of it.

saying goodbye to the beloved grouch couch. Which I felt to be ours by now by common law, and so when the actual owner came to reclaim it, I called it couch-napping, which doesn’t sound like a crime at all. Sigh! I get too sentimentally attached to things.

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monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

sweet tea.

literary conversations with Val.

laughing hysterically over memories from our college days.

and realizing all over again how I’ve been gifted with friendships.

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my amazing aunt.

goofing around and playing with babies.

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prayers that have the word “help” in them a lot.

people who are patient with me.

“too much” coffee.

monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

getting to be around wheat harvest again.

safe travels. And a few misadventures that ultimately turned out fine.

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getting to play with some of my favorite little guys! I don’t get to see them nearly enough!

the way Cherry and I can talk about a shared memory, that when I think about it, happened 20 years ago.

sharing meals with favorite people.

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accidental matching in church, patriotic edition. This happens to me way too much.

heroes and lifesavers. Such as the entire Hanson family, my dad, Miss Tina and Amanda (and Grace and little Finn too, why not… I went to their house the morning my car broke down. Finn gave me hugs and attempted to kiss me on the mouth, but just laughed at my face instead? It did cheer me up though.)

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a great afternoon tubing with Eli! We had so much fun, it was so relaxing! …. Followed by a not entirely great evening/night that wasn’t so much fun, or relaxing, involving some unwise detours, losing the car keys in the river, Dad not answering his phone, clinging to the highway for warmth as we waited in the dark, things like that.

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great weeks at camp.

John 15:16, how it says, “You didn’t choose Me. I chose you.”

enough sunsets, stars, storms, barns, mulberries, dirt roads, dust, mud and slushies to last me for a while!

monday gifts

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Thankful for… 

time spent at my favorite spot on my favorite county road.

safe drives to & from camp.

watching 3rd & 4th graders listen intently to Dad’s Bible stories.

perfecting my slushie-making technique!

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Bible memory + amazing breakfast + even more amazing friends. I have it so good.

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another great wedding!

seeing old friends & 628 roommates! (Sorry Val, we didn’t think about taking a picture till after you had already left!)

a 2 bandaid, 1 ice pack kind of day.

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how hard it has been to stay humble recently. :)

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setting attractive photos as the background on Val’s phone. (Apology #2 to Valerie should go here but, I’m not sorry.) 

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celebrating Kalyn and Duke’s birthday with grilling, retelling favorite old camp stories, and laughing too much.

happy basil.

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