Each day being with my loved one whose husband is in hospice has brought me new ways to think about one’s passing, and loving him or her through it. Although it’s a road not easily chosen, to walk alongside the deeply hurting family member as well as the person soon leaving this world, I know it is one important to experience.
Last week I shared with you the moments of joy in the small interactions – the lopsided smile, the deep exchange with just our eyes, the squeeze of a hand. This week the eyes are closed, the grip no longer strong, reminding me to cherish each fleeting day. I’ve also learned another important lesson brought home by such a dramatic set of circumstances, and yet universally applicable.
My dear one on hospice was an avid Harley rider which has allowed me to have so many fun conversations as I’ve reminded him of the many adventures he had with his spouse (my family member). Building on that, several day ago she had invited a few of his biker buddies over for snacks and reminiscing. Just a week earlier this interaction with the guys had really lifted his spirits. As it turned out this week, however, the day planned for the get together was a very bad day physically for our loved one so he was not able to enjoy any part of the get-together. In fact, it may have made him feel worse.
As we post mortemed the event, I suggested a new approach: instead of him entering our world, let’s enter his. So in the future such invites would always be spontaneously the day of, depending on how he was feeling and if we got any sign from him that such a get together would be welcomed. In other words, let’s put ourselves in his shoes and then make a plan.
We are right now living in a balancing act of when to discuss memories that bring him into this world, or help him enter the next. In that vein, we did have an amazing experience which has helped all of us remember the bigger picture.
One morning, he was not doing so well during breakfast and was just staring off into the distance. I asked him what he saw. Of course, he is not able to speak, but just by looking in his eyes, I don’t know if I imagined it or if he really did see what I thought he saw, but I do know this. I started to describe a scene and just went with it. I asked him if he was looking at this huge group of Harleys all up in the sky, so many you couldn’t even count them, and they were all waiting for him! The sky was beautiful and there was no pain. The beauty was beyond description. I really thought I saw what he saw but if my imagination, the description just went on and on from there. The scene was vivid as I described the sounds, the detail, and he had this huge smile on his face! He looked so happy in that far away gaze! I was so loud talking about what he saw that my sisters came into the room and joined in making engine revving sounds, reinforcing the scene, as he looked happier than we could remember he had looked for a very long time. We truly entered his world. Perhaps his world to come.
Walking with Yeshua teaches us to walk in our brothers’ and sisters’ shoes. Perhaps when the situation is such as this, when a person is in his last days, our doing so is a mercy, a mutual blessing, a gift. Waiting for our loved one’s cues, knowing how he’s feeling literally, helps guide our decisions of what would be best for him. Sometimes that may even take us to a place we seemingly can’t imagine.
Yet we don’t have to wait for opportunities such as this to engage in living in a way that is intended to grow us as loving individuals. What if we tried this in every conversation? Before blurting out our thoughts, what if we stopped to first think about the listener’s probable viewpoint to allow us to express our ideas or suggestions with sensitivity to how these would be heard? What if we thought of the need of the other before asserting our own opinions or desires?
Whether it helps us to be sensitive to another’s feelings or situation, or even takes us to Heaven’s door, entering the world of those with whom we interact grows our love receptors and transmitters, and helps us to see each other as He sees us.
Through eyes of love.