Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Widow's Walk: Earthly Angels

When Mike was first diagnosed with cancer, the nurses, doctor, and nurse practitioner became some of my best friends. The receptionist could recognize my voice immediately. They said call with any questions and I did. Everyone on staff at that office was wonderful to us as we faced our tragedy.

When Mike was hospitalized with blood clots, Diane, a feisty motherly red headed nurse jumped right in. She was compassionate and yet firm when he needed it to. She talked him through several minutes of intense pain, soothing and calming him until the medication could take effect.

One night at a Mexican restaurant, I recognized a woman's voice, she was Holly from the ICU. She had cared for Mike after his surgery. She was wonderful with him. She was thrilled to see him, alive. She confessed that she had not expected it.

When Mike took chemo, there was a nurse who administered it. Her name was Kim. She began every session with a hug. She flirted shamelessly with him and teased me that I would just have to deal with it. Mike loved having two women fawn over him. She was a cancer survivor and she gave him encouragement and advice better than anyone else.

At the hospice house that Sunday morning, she was there working a shift to make some extra money. She was surprised to find us there. I told her how his breathing had changed as I desperately hoped that he would come back to me for at least a few minutes. He had not spoken in days. Our eyes had only briefly locked the day before, with his gaze he seemed to recognize me - even offering a slight smile before returning to sleep.

As I hoped, she explained the reality to me. He didn't have long. We talked for awhile and then she left saying she would be back soon. When she came back, I was holding his hand, searching, hoping that it was one of his practical jokes and he would pop up laughing at me. She waited as the shock gave way to tears, holding me through my pain until family arrived.

As  we said good-bye to Mike, I was amazed at the number of people who had cared for him during his illness came. They didn't just care for the patient, but the family as well.

Doctors, nurses, and medical staff see people at their worst. And yet they all marveled at Mike's disposition even through the worst of it. Mike always told me that he thought his cancer was also his opportunity to glorify God. I believe Mike brought out the best in people.

I once asked Mike what was on his bucket list and he told me that it was the average ordinary days that were extraordinary. He chose to spend his time with family and friends, helping our church set up a prayer ministry, and studying the word of God.

So many people were there for us during that time and so many continue to be there for me even now. I am forever thankful for all our earthly angels.

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