It was 6 months ago today, I had the privilege of holding a dying man’s hand and saying goodbye one last time. This isn’t the first time I have done that and it certainly won’t be the last. I am a chronic disease nurse, and assisting with life or death situations come with the territory.
“J” had been a patient of mine for over six years. He has listened to stories about my children and I have reminisced with him about his younger years. I have cared for him when he has been at his weakest and he has shared with me great wisdom and kindness every step of the way.
This was a very kind, honest man. The type that would never speak ill of someone or always asked how your day was. The amount of visitors he had was staggering. I am sure he held a lot of hands before he closed his eyes for the final time. I too had grown to love this man and it was hard to say goodbye.
Sometimes this part of my job can be unbearable and heartbreaking. However, my heart reminded me of the valuable lessons this has continued to teach me. As heart-wrenching as my chosen career is, it has taught me that it is the seemingly inconsequential moments that make up a life. The laughs shared with friends, the long talks with a loved one, the snuggles of your children. These small wonders are what it’s all about.
In the end, the clothes on your back, the amount in your bank account and the number on the scale mean literally nothing. It’s the memories, the moments and the people that surround you in your final hour that sums up a life. These present moments that we feel are so trivial are where love is nurtured and grown. In the end, there is nothing physical or tangible to grasp or cling too. All that remains is an how well you loved those around you and how many were willing to hold your hand.