Listen to this post:
Apparently my friend Patia has a bigger circle of fans than I knew ... thanks to the response from the July 3 post about her big heart and its complications. http://salonforthesoul.blogspot.com/2011/07/bright-lipstick-and-big-earrings.html
I just returned from a visit to the nursing home where she is recuperating for another week before she's able to be home alone. It's been years since I visited such a facility and not much has changed. Hallways were cheery, staff, friendly and activities tailored to every taste. But so many vacant faces searched for recognition, any acknowledgment. A simple hello elicited a thaw in the frozen features, transforming emptiness to awareness, then smiles. It's heart wrenching.
And Patia knows it. There's no way she belongs in this place other than to get her strength back. She is far too vibrant and young. But she's working hard.
"You know, God wants me here and not just to get better," Patia told me as she cozied her wheel chair closer. "I make a point to reach out to all of these people; they need it."
Leave it to Patia to know she has a job besides the monumental task of bouncing back from heart surgery. As I awkwardly wheeled her to her room and back, she said hello to everyone we passed, often making a personal comment. "Do you know all of their names?" I wondered out loud ... remembering the woman two weeks ago so frustrated at her shotty memory in the icu (intensive care unit). "No, but I recognize every face. They need someone to talk to them."
I confessed that her plummet after surgery into what she called a living hell shook me to the core. She momentarily teared up and responded that is where she had BEEN. Not now.
Though her room does not overlook the courtyard and gazebo, Patia is grateful for the rocks and sliver of blue sky, her small connection to nature. It was tough in icu not knowing what time it was, let alone which day. One sterile, gunea-pig day melted into the next. Even the rootfop view gave her no grounding. As we discussed the adequateness her current quarters, she mentioned she'd seen the flash of a cardinal today. It thrilled her. Nature is her sanctuary. Her house, a former church (how fitting) has a beautiful meditation garden she tends. I told her that every time I see a red bird, I believe it's a sign that I am on the right path.
Patia agreed with her bright smile and hearty laugh that it may be hers as well.
• When has another person inspired me by their response to adversity?
• When was a time I could see the silver lining?
• How can I remind myself that I am not alone in such difficult times?
• For what can I be grateful right now?
• What prayer can I offer for those feeling alone and forgotten?
it was a long walk to her room,
yet miles away from the hospital setting
still nurses, aides, long corridors
and wheel chairs
yet a different rhythm
one of life and activity
but of lives already lived
and more vicarious activities
less of a hopeful recovery
and more of a peaceful decline
NOT where Patia belongs
... except that's where she says
God wants her right now