It was my most unusual Christmas Eve ever and at the same time just may have been my most awe inspiring Christmas Eve ever as well.
In twelve hours time I redressed multiple times an individual, who wanted to undress and go outside to “stop traffic” but later decided she was getting cold and now would allow me to help her put her clothes back on. I very calmly reclaimed my necklace and shirt from an angry clutch wanting to break and tear them off of me. I heard questions like “Am I going to have to BUMP you in the nose?” “Is it time for me to grab a hold of something and break it?” although many of the events and statements of the evening often seemed chaotic and random it was what happened just after midnight that was truly awesome.
As a person who has had many years working in human services, it is not uncommon to work the majority of holidays. It was often common for someone without family involvement to come home and share the holidays at my home with my family, or for me to spend a significant amount of time at their location giving care on the holiday.
My family has become comfortable with celebrating our holidays together either extending our family love to those without family to go home to, or planning our celebration around those who are in need of care for the holidays.
When your heart is truly at peace there is a beauty in each moment of life and an understanding that extending love to others in need multiplies the gratefulness and love within your own family and life.
When you choose to live and seek a higher level of existence, selfless love toward others becomes as natural as breathing. The most amazing part is when you are responding to a longing in your heart to help someone, and NOT preforming a task to get something for selfish gain, your actions and life are miraculously protected from evil doings and the intentional deceitful ways of dishonest people.
This year I had accepted work assignments and had my holidays planned. I would be working an overnight at one of my regular families on Christmas Eve and I also accepted an 8 hour assignment with another person I regularly care to on Christmas Day.
I received a call the week of Christmas, there were changes in the care plan. Different needs and a new client who needed care. I agreed to the changes and my schedule was updated to take on the new assignments. My family and I made arrangements to have our family gathering Christmas Eve before my Holiday shifts all began.
When I arrive at my location I meet the family of the person I am giving care to before they go home for the evening. I enjoyed getting to visit with the family and hearing interesting details and some past history about the person I would be taking care of that night. Many of the people I assist are unable to communicate what their life was once like and names of friends and family who are important to them.
Often times their life has changed very drastically. Whether it is terminal illness, dementia or traumatic injury that has caused the need for care, the situation is very difficult and always a devastating change for the entire family. The person may be out of control and be acting in a completely different manner than they ever have acted in the past.
My Christmas Eve shift started at eight pm and would be ending at eight am. There was much restlessness and unsettled aggression in the early parts of the shift. Everything from anger, banging on the wall, minor aggression, screaming, yelling and undressing to loving comments and communications to family in heaven. As the night went on things began to improve the restless aggression began to calm and the trust in me slightly grew.
The relaxation music for anxiety that I found on YouTube to share with her started to work and her tolerance with my interactions with her began to improve. From the beginning of my shift she kept reaching out and grabbing my hand. Sometimes being gentle and sometimes with agitation and mildly aggressive.
By the time midnight was approaching she began to have heavenly interactions with her brothers in Heaven. I have experienced this with other patients nearing death. It is a very beautiful experience, they often times are calling out the name of the person as if they are trying to wake them from sleep or gain their attention from afar. Their focus is always directed above. As the observer what a loving and hopeful event to witness. A visual mixing of the two worlds, the earthly world we are presently in and the eternal life they are transitioning to. In these moments the silly noise of normal everyday life seems so distant, what once seemed important no longer is. There is a simplistic beauty in the moment that is hard to find words adequate to explain.
As she was calling out she first used one name, then another. She was calling their name and then saying “take this”. Since her confidence in me had now grown and I was able to interact with her. I asked her who they were. “My brothers” she answered. Are they in Heaven I asked her. “Yes”, she answered. She called again and again asked them to “take this”. “What is it you would like them to take?” I asked her. She moved her foot toward me and said “my sneakers”. She wasn’t wearing sneakers but I asked her “Can I take off your socks for you?” “Yes” she said. She rested for a little bit comfortably and then she quickly looked up at the ceiling, like someone just got her attention. She then said to me “Well, the baby boy is here now!” There were no clocks in the room but I had on a watch and when I looked at the time it was just past midnight…. Christmas Morning.
My patient who began the evening wanting to “bump me in the nose” and grab and rip my necklace off, was now resting very peacefully and trusting me. My body was aching with lack of sleep, I had a headache (probably from lack of sleep and stress as well) by about 3:00 AM she begins to relax almost to the point of sleep. She had reached out and grabbed my hand and pulled me close to the bedside. I rested my head on the pillow bumper that was keeping her from falling out of bed. “Awe, God bless you honey, you’re a good one” she says to me. “No, I’m not the good one” I tell her. “It’s the Baby Boy who is here with us tonight.” “He is the Good One” I tell her.
He truly is the Good in me that helps me very calmly and lovingly untangle confused hands and attempts of aggression in my life. It is only His magic working through me that amazingly gets me through life’s difficult moments with Joy and Strength! He helps me complete long hours of care with Kindness, Joy and Love.
As I collect my things to leave at 8:00AM I say good bye and Merry Christmas to her “I Love you honey” she says to me “I Love you too” I tell her “I am so glad that I was able to spend Christmas Eve with you and the Baby Boy”I tell her. “I will tell the nurses I am leaving now and they will check in on you after I leave”. “I will see you again I am sure”.
Although every day of life is amazing and contains miracles, the fast pace hectic noise of life often clouds the message. The moments one shares with a soul who is approaching end of life here on earth are precious, it is almost as though the grains of sands are falling through the hourglass at a different pace.
Each encounter is unique, as an observer can sometimes seem unclear and difficult, but like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon although it may take time and appear to be a struggle when the journey is complete the beauty of the moment is nothing short of astounding.
With Respect, Hope, Joy and Love, Carmela