I cannot exist without in some sense taking part in you,
in the child I once was,
in the breeze stirring the down on my arm,
in the child starving far away,
in the flashing round of the spiral nebula.
Excuse me, the nurse said politely. I looked up from my paperwork.
The patient in room five is actively dying, and the family is requesting the chaplain.
I put down my pen, pushed my chair away from the desk in the cozy office I shared with the Social Worker at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House, and made my way to room five. Pausing at the door to quiet myself, I knocked softly, then entered.
The patient, an African-American woman in her mid-sixties, had been admitted just the night before. The only sound in the room was her irregular, shallow breathing. Her sister stood on one side of the bed, eyes red-rimmed, a wadded tissue in her fist, lips pressed together in grief. Her brother stood at the foot of the bed; his head bowed, somber and silent. As I moved gently to her bedside the patient, who was staring into the distance, turned her head slightly and looked directly into my eyes. She then took three soft breaths, as delicate, it seemed, as a butterfly opening and closing its wings, and she died. As the moment hung suspended between us, I didn’t dare blink or even move. Reflected in her eyes I glimpsed the timeless truth that we are all connected, we are part of one another. Ever since, I have looked for and found that same reflection in the eyes of others and in the world around me.
Can you think of a time where you experienced a deep connection with another person, a group of people, or the world around you?
Check out this wonderful link to see how quickly two strangers can connect while sitting in a ball pit talking about life’s big questions:
Director of Volunteer and Bereavement Services