Monday, September 8, 2008

Do Miracles Happen?

Recently, I had the privilege to witness joy at the passing of a patient. I got the call as I was on my way to dinner. I turned around and went to the address my triage nurse had given me. Let me preface by saying that I was not supposed to go to this house, it was my colleague's territory and she wasn't answering her phone. It turned out that she was home in bed and someone else was supposed to be covering her calls. That nurse didn't answer the phone either, so I went to do my duty in a place I wasn't supposed to be.

When I pulled up to the address, there was such joy and celebration going on in this home that it seemed more like a party atmosphere than the home where a death had just occurred. I thought this couldn't possibly be the right house. It was. It turns out that this patient was so labored in an effort to breathe that the family joined hands around the patient's bed and sang a traditional Catholic hymn. As they completed their singing, their loved one passed. The family was convinced that this soul had gone to heaven. Their celebration of joy was truly an affirmation of their faith.

With the anniversary of my own mother's passing, my heart and mind were heavy. Walking into this home made me feel that indeed, something special had happened here. Just like it had when my mother passed.

I know I've mentioned this story before, but at the anniversary of my mom's death, it bears repeating. My dad passed away in a local, small community hospital that has about 100 beds. Four years later, my mom passed away in the same hospital, in the same room and in the same bed. No person on earth can convince me that this was a coincidence. I know it wasn't. My Dad came that night to claim her back. The idea still brings me an overwhelming sense of peace. I miss both of my parents very much, but it's experiences like the ones I get to witness routinely as a hospice nurse, that convince me I'll see all of my loved ones again.

When all was said and done the other night and I'd pronounced my patient's death, I went home and pondered why it was me that this particular responsibility fell to. Was it a coincidence that nobody else answered their phones? I don't think so. And besides, I've never really cottoned to coincidence, I am of the belief that for every thing that happens, there is an explanation. Something greater was at work and recognizing my grief, had brought me solace at this, the anniversary of my mother's passing: I got to bear witness to another family's miracle and faith. Today, I give thanks for that.

I'm curious, have you experienced your own little miracles or signs? Do they bring you peace, or do you find these things unsettling?


laurie said...

my sister kristin died five minutes after we all left her room. her room had been packed with people for hours--the minister, my other sister, two of kristin's sons, her husband, her husband's son....

lots of chatting, and praying, and singing, and rubbing her feet (which were getting cold) as kristin lay in a morphine coma.

coincidentally, we all had to leave at the same time--all except her husband, who stayed. and five minutes later, she died.

some thought that she timed it that way; that he didn't want to die in front of us. i think it was less cerebral than that; i think the great energy in the room was keeping her alive and when the energy left, so did she.

i don't know. it was very hard at first, thinking if i'd just stayed five more minutes i could have been with her at the last. but then i thought maybe if i'd stayed, she just would have hung on...

your job is very hard, witnessing this so many times.

Brenda said...

Yes, Rudee I do believe that was NOT a coincidence that you were called there. I very much believe every thing happens for a reason. I have a few stories I could tell but they would get very long for a comment on your blog. I believe in many things, angels appearing in human form, ghosts, evil spirits...lots of things. I am pretty open minded. Or crazy, maybe...Ha!
I had missed the post you did about your Mom and Dad earlier. That would have been very strange to have been "just a coincidence".
Also, I got the DVD from the library on "The Elegant Universe" and watched the first one last night. Thanks for recommending it...I can't wait to see the whole thing...maybe tonight we will finish it.

Rudee said...

Maybe you're right Laurie. I've had a few patients tell me they don't want to die in front of their families or in their homes. As soon as we get them to where they desire, they pass. It's all very mysterious to me.

Brenda, do you like The Elegant Universe? I thought it was wonderful myself. For anyone else who hasn't seen it, it can be viewed online here:

Betty Flocken said...

Oh Rudee, What a wonderful event. I'm happy you were able to be a part of it. I believe God, your mom or your dad that helped engineer it. I believe your mom was there, a part of it for you.
My Mom was sick with Emphysema for years. My dad was healthy but growing very forgetful. VERY. My dad died unexpectedly on January 24th. My mom was very quiet during the ensuing days. The day after his funeral she entered the hospital and died a few days later, 12 days after my father passed. It was awful, yet beautiful. I believe, my dad waited for her and together they passed. I'm glad you had your miracle and I'm sorry for your pain at the anniversary of your mom's passing.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

The night my grandmother died, in an ICU in Alabama, we all decided to go back to her house to sleep since she seemed relatively stable. I had a really nagging feeling about it, enough that I asked the nurse what her opinion was, but I didn't listen to my gut. We got the call in the middle of the night and by the time we got back to the hospital she had died. On some level I've regretted it ever since, but knowing my grandmother she wouldn't have wanted us to witness it.

I hope this doesn't sound weird, but I envy you your hospice experience with peaceful death. I've never had a peaceful death in my practice - they've all gone fighting tooth and nail. Maybe it's the trauma aspect - the idea of it all being too soon, too short. I wouldn't mind a little peace, a little joy.

Lovely post. Thank you.

The Crusty Crone said...

First let me just say I'm really enjoying your blog. And second... ohmygosh, 'rudee' shared the link to NOVA's The Elegant Universe. That's my miracle for the day. I loved that program!! And now I can watch it whenever I want.

God bless you and God bless rudee. Maybe this is the true reason why I came to your blog. Whatever... today is my lucky day. Thank you again!!

(and for your entry about your mother and grandparents... I just wanted to say your mother was very beautiful.)

The Crusty Crone said...

Is my face red? Okay... I'm quietly walking away while I take my foot out of my mouth. A Knitting Nurse and rudee are one and the same. I got so excited about the video I forgot to engage my brain. It happens sometimes. Okay... maybe a little more often than just 'sometimes'.

Sandy said...

Nice story and yes, such a sign about your mom and dad's passing...

Yes, I've received many signs, particularly after my mom's passing and my brother's. Very overt in your face type of contact.

They made me feel great knowing they were still around.

Rudee said...

Crusty, I have a lot of names over here. Click on the Welcome to Lucy's Place link on the side for even one more of my names!

Rudee said...

So Sandy, I take it you find comfort in your contacts! I know that I do.