Sunday, May 22, 2005

Puppy Love

Last week I finished Hospice volunteer training. There was an exercise we did in our last class that really struck home. The purpose of it was to give us even a slight idea of how it feels to have our life become limited, to understand how our patient could feel.

We were asked us to list ten things that we really enjoy doing in our lives. Then having written these down, we were informed that we had become disabled and had to cross off three of them because we could no longer do them. Then further disability and cross off three more, and finally cross off all of the things we love to do. I found I was hanging on to appreciating animals and nature to the very end, and had even selected a black stuffed animal from the basket she passed around because it looked so much like my adorable dog Ebony.

The next day I had my first hospice patient to visit, a little lady in a nursing home. She had some dementia, and was brought to me in a wheelchair with a bright afghan over her, and a stuffed animal puppy dog peeking out from under the covers. She patted the dog and reassured him that he was a good boy and not to be afraid many times during our visit.

I thought, Wow, for her this little dog is just like my Ebony. What a huge gap between living a free life as I do, loving real people and animals, managing my own home, driving wherever I want to go, and this world of wheelchair, afghan, stuffed animal, and nursing home. And yet in her own way this lady is weaving a life, is expressing love, is combining the external story of my visit with the internal story of her companionship with this dog. How endlessly creative the human mind is, how comfort can be found in so many ways. I take a deep breath and stretch to appreciate it all.

gg murray 5/22/05