It is so challenging to hold an inspired mental state or divine-based awareness in which we cherish that feeling, even if it is very painful, because we know nothing is more real than these moments. Do people without prior connectivity finally start to really connect at a deeper level? These intense moments will never be forgotten, but somehow we always struggle to maintain the truly inspired soul as the secular grind seems to flush it out. Where does it really come from…life-changing experiences, unparalleled personal growth, unimaginable loss, or finding deeper purpose for our existence? Either way, you know it is real or it separates us from all other animals. That we do exist for a different purpose…compassion, love, hope and empathy, which are humanity’s best attributes.
Here I am again at life’s painless bridge between the temporary physical and the unknown spiritual world. It seems like yesterday, when in reality it was actually over three years ago that my father was admitted to Signature HealthCARE of East Louisville with terminal pancreatic cancer for a short stay after a yearlong battle with a brutal cancer. He passed on the exact day we had scheduled the first local book signing for “My God! Our God?” on my old college campus, Bellarmine University. Watching his last breaths, he kept saying he was going to show up no matter what, and then with crazy storms that evening and a packed house, I realized he was with me as promised – just in different form.
Now, it’s my beautiful, angelic mother who gets diagnosed with lung cancer without ever smoking almost 14 months ago, and after a great, almost perfect year of parties, downtown plays, family dinners, hot air balloon rides, and deep dialogue about her wishes, dreams, and final plans. We had just enjoyed the past 12 months like it could last longer. Then it hit and hit hard within a month. First, it was permanent oxygen. Second, pneumonia. Third, almost bed ridden. Recently, a two-week hospital stay, and then she was admitted to Signature East like my father. Now we are facing the PAIN that just keeps coming. For an adopted son to watch the mother suffer who changed his entire life, I can’t think of a more helpless feeling than this. The amazing mother who did everything to make your world safe, special and nurturing, grimacing next to you in great pain and there are no magic pills this time.
This time it feels more comfortable because I feel a deeper bond with the care team than during my last experience. I know I have always loved our Signature caregivers, but now I feel more understanding about their journey. For example, I remember during CNA clinicals that certain residents at Signature HealthCARE of South Louisville were just like my mother – frail, quiet, in great pain, and near the end…..which makes this experience different because I can somehow relate to the emotional toll for our stakeholders. I liked my residents in just two days; what about these revolutionaries who emotionally attach to all residents they see every day? To be truthful, last time I mainly saw Dad and no one else. I was just thankful to have a great facility that made us feel like home. As a CNA in training, the irony for me is when certain family members would say their loved one was in great health just last month. It seemed impossible to me that anyone could decline that fast until I witnessed my own mother’s rapid decline and how it affects each one of us, no matter whose mother it is.
Now some background on mom. My mother was always too perfect to relate to as I grew up. She always told me she never hated anyone, had no reason to ever lie, seemed to hate competitive board games because she believed there were only winners, kept friends from all walks of life, loved everyone almost equal, and when she received some tough cards like we all do with my brother’s tragic illness and my sister’s early struggles, she stayed positive never giving up hope…Now this.
As I sit here in the 300 Hall next to her, holding her hand as she goes in and out near midnight, it hurts deeply because I know how this will end but it also inspires me more to get the Revolution right in all ways. The stakeholders here are exceptional, the place is very clean, the people are generally happy, mom trusts them 100%, and the physician’s involvement is exceptional, but we have so much more to do. My original dream somehow seems closer in reach now than ever.
I dream that we could build our SHC volunteer army finally companywide, where no one would ever die alone if they are part of the Revolution!
I dream that all of our locations would have a family suite on site that anyone could use when they just want to be here and not miss anything like me.
I dream of a day we could resurrect our Palliative Care plan so we are the best in the country in delivering this “must-have” program because we all need it!
I dream of a day where the day you are admitted, the Signature Miracle Book, crowd-sourced by all stakeholders, sits on the end table ready, as a simple read, so losing hope and dreaming of miracles never ends.
I dream that an in-room dining menu would be at the fingertips of our residents so mom could get French Onion soup and a milkshake right now, since she failed to touch her dinner again tonight because when you are this sick, it better be your personal favorite.
I dream of a day where every stakeholder becomes a CNA so every call light and resident need can be handled immediately, and we all walk the talk – maybe we even travel in scrubs for FABI dream of a day where my mom could be connected with bedside entertainment and read every prayer, answer Skype calls, and talk with anyone she wants to reach out to or locate, because time is short and every communication opportunity matters more than ever.
I dream of a day when compassion, empathy, and hope rule every hallway and every resident, family, and stakeholder have the same concern for everyone like it was their own mother….just the way God intended it to be!