Monday, April 28, 2008

anita

I've been at hillcrest almost a year now...and strangely, it's mostly been a positive experience. what i mean by that is that despite inner battles to find pure motivation, to understand guilt when i'm lazy or frustration when i'm out of ideas or feelings of ineptitude in general...i've received nothing but joy and have only grown as a person because i've been invited to share in these people's lives.
along with that i have been frustrated together with ron when he's trying to talk and i can't get it, and i've been angry when a wheelchair is broken and left unrepaired for over a month, and i've wrestled with the realization that these people are forced to live in a hospital where they're told where and when and what to eat...among other losses...i've been sad, but today my heart broke.
Anita is a beautiful woman. Ever since i've known her she's been unable to use her hands for most tasks, so someone has to feed her and light her cigarettes for her...but her personality shines through her physical incapacities. she's sarcastic and witty and bossy (in a loving way) and full of life and totally mentally present. Today she didn't come to group, but afterwards I stopped in the hallway to talk to her. all these wonderful things were gone from her. I wiped the drool from her face and placed my hand on her shoulder and looked into empty eyes. one has always been lazy, which is just another thing that contributes a bit to her characteristic craziness that i love so much....
my first reaction was to try to cheer her up...so i joked about her boyfriend (denzel washington) and fumbled through meaningless words all the while aching to see some life come back to her. it was so bad that i asked the nurse later if she was on heavy meds or something. it took me 3 full minutes to understand the single word "patio". we went outside together and it slowly sunk in deep that these people have a fatal disease. they're not getting better...her life is slipping away and i can't do a damn thing to stop it.
i came home a few hours later. my extremely perceptive and loving roommate pulled the story out of me...he offered very pragmatic approaches to help me understand and cope with it all...but im not concerned about me right now. and i'm not feeling pragmatic...i'm feeling helpless.
so i let his loving words soak in to my heart...welcomed a hug that i could rest in if only for a moment...and finally felt some peace when he pointed to the flower on the table, "look". a big beautiful white native flower with several buds beginning to burst open.

we live and we die...and we don't need to understand, and it's complicated, and we barely make it...but along the way there are small miracles...and if my eyes are open, life really is beautiful, right there along with all of the pain and disease and violence and suffering and theft and evil...there are wildflowers and symphonies and hugs and birthday parties and friends....

i'm not sure what to do with this habit of mine to take raw lament and shaking fists into the reaction i think i'm supposed to have...like saying "God is good" "He is faithful"...it seems as cliche as saying "don't worry, be happy".

Lord be with Anita. Bring peace and joy somehow. Show her that her life is beautiful. Have mercy on us all.

1 comment:

Christi said...

ummmmm...sigh....what you experienced is why I do what I do...and I think why you do what you do...because you desire to be with people. To be with them when they are hurting or healing or just dying (cause we are all doing that). If we have similar hearts and I think we do...we are wired to desire this. And the thing is really we can only just be with them. Sure we play games, or give meds, or help them clean up, but really we are just being with them and showing them love because it is a love we know and are called to give. I love you! Give Anita a hug from me next time you are with her!