One of the most important questions I no longer ask is "why?" I just don't feel that is of great use to my life or to my heart and I believe it will send you about on a circle of unending searching for a question which has no answer. If you believe in god, or a higher power of some sort, I don't think that god or the HP is a justice-based system and when we ask "Why did this happen? She's been a good person! She didn't deserve this." We are applying a system of justice to a world that works in ways we cannot apply that system to. Our world and our lives are mysterious and they demand faith from us. I don't believe we can speak to god or our HP the way we wish to demand an answer from our mechanic.
So... I have a lot of questions. I am puzzled myself as to what the meaning is behind the fact that I have placed myself in this moment in my life in a job where I am bearing witness to so much suffering and where I am the recipient of so many stories of suffering.
I am watching adult children caring for their adult parents. I recognize the look of pain and despair on their faces which tells me they are facing the inevitable and the stress of the overwhelm they feel around their care. I am watching elderly come in and out of moments of clarity due to dementia and Alzheimers and I myself, feel the pain of where they have departed to when they have gone because I am responsible for these souls for part of their journey now. I too, have experienced the delight of when they arrive "home" within themselves. I have found a few ways to see those moments and it's like a triumphant breakthrough leading only to the next moment of inevitable heartbreak.
I see stress and strain and anxiety in the faces of those who come to visit their loved ones, wondering if they are making the right decisions. Sandwiched between generations. Arriving each day with such exhaustion and devotion because they feel they are the only ones who will take this journey on.
One thing I am continually learning each day and as I look back on my life, is that we cannot know if our decisions are the right ones. But we can know if we are showing up in love.
The people who are teaching me the most are the ones who have this kind of devotion. They seem to have the heart of Hanuman. The man who comes every day and stays all day beside his wife. He cleans between her toes with his bare hands.
The son who comes to see his father every day, sit with him, knowing his circumstances are grim, but he shows up day after day after day after day with a smile and a desire to help even as his father is totally unresponsive.
The wife who comes every day - although her husband is angry with the world, and stays rooted and steady... every day.
Another wife whose husband is in a coma, who has put her faith in god's plan. She lost her son 2 years ago, she fell apart and she is piecing herself back together even as she is slowly losing her husband.
The aide who tells the patient everything she is going to do as she changes her and moves her in her bed, listening to her as she cries in pain, and speaks to her so compassionately and patiently, the way a mother would speak to a crying young child. It has made me cry many many times, the sheer beauty of this kindness.
The woman from housekeeping who chants every morning before she comes to work and from one look at her, you can see that she is rock steady, field, clear and pure, untainted by any of the circumstances around her.
These people are not drained by their circumstances or by their work. Their anchor is not anxiety or fear. It is love. They are my teachers.
However, I am restless. Some of these people need more help than they are getting and it is just not in my integrity to sit idly by.
There was one patient who was terribly sick who completely disarmed me and I suppose I have not been able to look back since.
Both of his arms were entirely black and blue from being poked at with needles. his leg muscles were atrophied and he could barely breathe from repeated bouts of pneumonia.
He said that he could tell me exactly how many ceiling tiles there were in his room.
That said everything to me.
Then he told me:
"The person who runs this facility needs to spend six months in this bed to know what this feels like."
I could not disagree.
"You place my tray just one inch too far away and I cannot get a drink of water. If I drop my call bell or can't reach it, I cannot get to the bathroom. And my only other option is to start yelling."
This man is absolutely correct.
Then he told me that he had had the worst night of his life the night before. That CHUNKS of blood were coming through the tube in his catheter.
At that point, I basically excused myself and ran to the nurses station. Later that day, I overheard his daughter being told that her father probably had a UTI. When I heard that I was irate inside for her father. Chunks of blood? Let's just say this: he was in the hospital by the next day.
This man changed how I go about my life.
I can sum it up best by saying this:
"When you really care, you just don't care."
Here's what I mean: the first part is obvious. What I mean by the second part is this: you just don't care what others will say or how they will respond. When asked why I am going out on a limb etc, it isn't important to share why.
Knowing that my intentions are clear and pure and integritous, and actions, of course, ethical, is what matters.
Maybe this has answered and clarified why my most beloved says I am now "deployed." Maybe.
But one of the things I know for sure is that none of this is about me. I care because I care about these people and their well-being.
Life is so messy. Our losses run so deep. But I do believe that what is essentially us is never ever lost.
In the book Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser said the following:
"I pray that each one of us stays awake as we fall. I pray that we choose to go into the abyss willingly and that our fall is cushioned by faith- faith at the bottom we will be caught and taught and turned toward the light."
I am uncertain about the meaning of my deployment. I do know that it is not about me and that I am choosing to be of service. Choosing my teachers every day. Offering kindness which goes very far. But finding ways to practice seeing kindness and love within very painful experiences has become one of my my greatest practices of all.