I have always believed that we all have a calling. Sometimes it’s very loud and clear, and sometimes it’s a quiet whisper and you can’t make out all of the words the first few times you hear it. My calling to be a nurse was always a little whisper in my ear and finally became a loud roar about six years ago.
When my mother-in-law fell ill in the Quincy area, in 2009, our family was located in Wentzville, Missouri. We were certainly close enough to drive home every weekend, but also far enough away that we worried her end might come before we could say our last goodbyes face-to-face.
In her final months, Blessing Hospice & Palliative Care was invited to be a part of her end-of-life comfort and care. And every weekend for three months, I was honored to be a part of her care as well, getting to know the hospice staff and getting to know my mother-in-law on a more personal level than I could have ever imagined.
Each weekend, we made the drive to Quincy for many reasons: to pack in as much quality time and “I love you’s” as possible; to offer support and respite to our family members who were providing care throughout the week; and simply, to be with Mom.
During that time, I was fortunate enough to share a lot of alone time with her, mostly listening and learning. She shared her joys of a truly happy life and her fears about what lay ahead of her. She told me all of her hopes for those she would soon leave behind. Mom was certainly not one to admit defeat or weakness, but she did confide that she had tried several times to bargain with God. She always came to the same conclusion, though: We were never promised forever.
Watching the hospice nurses, being involved in caregiving, sharing someone’s final days on earth- it was time for me to follow my calling and go to nursing school. I had already been taking general education classes, and was prepared for several years of schooling. But now I had a very clear goal: I was going to be hospice nurse. I am very happy to say that achieved that goal in 2014.
When people find out that I am a nurse for Blessing Hospice & Palliative Care, they often make comments about how sad my job must be or how tough it must be to watch people as they grow weaker. What most people don’t realize, though, is that I hear so many wonderful stories of a life well-lived and get to see the pure love that families share with each other when they don’t know if there will be a tomorrow. Every single day at work, I have the honor of sharing some of those precious final memories with my patients and their loved ones, much like I did with my mother-in-law. Many of the people I work with have profound experiences at the end of their life, from giving or receiving forgiveness to feeling a new level of spirituality. What a true privilege it is to share in these beautiful moments!
I have no doubt that I am exactly where I am meant to be. And I quietly thank my mother-in-law every day for helping me realize my calling.