Over the past year since my book release, I’ve had the good fortune to cross paths with skilled individuals who are effecting change in our industry.  The focus on the non-financial side of retirement, starting to take root.  I’m humbled to be in the leading edge of the conversation.

One such contact was with a fellow blogger named John Weiss.  He’s a writer and photographer who reflects on life lessons and self-improvement.  Anyone who’s followed my blog over the years knows we’re kindred spirits.  How our paths crossed?  His wife is a hospice nurse.  In June of this year, he invited his wife to be a guest blogger on his platform.  She reflected on the day-in-the-life of her job.  Her essay hit close to home.  I could only imagine that my mom could have easily filled a book with her own stories as well.

I reached out to John to ask permission to share his wife’s story with my readers.  He graciously agreed.  It touched me deeply.  I hope you find it as compelling and meaningful as I did.

Being Present Is a Choice

By: Nicole Weiss

Being present is a choice.

My job allows me the choice, of being present in a moment of intense grief, or not. I’ll explain.

I am a hospice nurse.

I work in an inpatient unit, the second oldest free-standing hospice house in the nation. We take care of patients that have symptoms that cannot be relieved at home. The sickest, the most painful, or the most alone.

I work 12-hour shifts. I give gallons of comfort meds. I’m sometimes exhausted beyond words, and sometimes I let my coworkers deal with emotional families. Sometimes it’s me.

Last weekend, I met an amazing couple. A bi-racial couple married 62 years. I only mention race because of the difficulty they faced before diversity was accepted. It only partly explained their incredible bond. Battle worn together.

She was now beyond communication as the cancer took everything from her. She lay in bed and he just held her hands. The end of her journey was very near.

But not that day.

A little later he came to my desk and said to call if “anything changes,” and I assured him we would. The next morning, I assessed her and read the clues. She was departing in a few hours. I called her beloved and he said he was on his way.

She. did. not. wait.

Mel, my aide, caught him at the door and prepared him. She was gone.

He fell to the ground crying quietly to himself. I saw this, and my other coworkers and I rushed to him. They were trying to lift him. I waved them off and allowed him the moment.

“It’s so final, I knew it was coming but it’s so FINAL. GONE.” He cried quietly.

I sat on the floor next to him, one hand on his shoulder. Just letting him know someone was there. For him. Someone was present for only him.

He visited with her for a few hours after he had collected the strength to stand. On his way out after his time with her, he thanked Mel and me.

He said we made him feel like they were the only people in the world at that time… he had never felt such kindness, compassion, or empathy. We thanked him for expressing his gratitude, and he hugged us.

Mel and I watched him go. We held each other’s shoulders.

It was our turn to cry. This is why I do this job.

And why I chose to be present.