November 9, 2010

A Heartbeat Stops...

My cell phone rang while I was at work this weekend. I was at the nurses station surrounded by the nursing staff that I supervise as charge nurse.

Ignoring stares and silent comments that "you are the enforcer of no cell phones at work", I answered with my usual confident smile.

"Hi Robert". (Name changed to protect privacy.)

It was the nurse from another unit. His name is saved in my phone as the supervisor of the facility.

"Bring your stethoscope".

Someone had passed away, and I was needed to confirm no pulse.

Every time this happens - and it does on a regular basis in my profession - there's always the twinge of questions about death and dying.

Is this the beginning or the end? Where is my patient now? Is the spirit still in the room? Is there a spirit anymore? Will this person ever exist again?

And, the persistent personal question always comes to my mind, "Who will hold my hand when I die?"

My lifelong membership to the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church dictates that I believe in the resurrection with the second coming of Christ. Oh yes, that's if I've been "good" and have faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. When I "die", I do NOT go right to Heaven as most people believe. I will NOT be watching over those I leave behind. Nor am I able to come back and commune with those I've loved in this lifetime.

According to my religious upbringing, I AM ASLEEP! But, not really asleep...

The only absolutely agreed thing is that everyone agrees on is that I'm DEAD.

For certain my patient was lying in her bed, mouth open, eyes closed, not breathing. No pulse. She looked to be nearly 100-years old. She was dead.

Her husband was SLEEPING in the bed on the other side of the room. We discussed who would wake him up to inform him of his wife's passing. Maybe Hospice could do that a little later. It would be very sad.

While we often boast about what we believe in the afterlife, I really doubt that anyone truly, honestly, knows the answer deep in their hearts. We all want some reassurance, but I don't believe there is any PROOF of life after death - now or later - here or anywhere else. (Sorry, fellow church members.)

Of course, this is purely my opinion. But, one I reflect on several times a month. Not, just every few years as with most people who lose a good friend, precious relative, or even beloved PET in death.

My suggestion here in this short piece on death and our future, is that you live your life with a passion for leaving behind the most wonderful, positive, memories for those who knew and will continue remember and miss you.

There rises the question of good and evil. Is there evil in the universe, or just here on this earth? What is good, and what is evil?

Later, back at the nurses station some older nurses were remembering the patient and her husband, as they had both lived at this facility for several years. Stories were told about the antics, their personalities, and the fond memories that this patient had created. A few tears were shed because there was no more life to live, history to create, or legacy to leave behind. It was the end of a life that I never knew existed until I pronounced her death.

I often think of my own legacy. My children are my most precious legacy. I want a universal future with them, my loving husband, and even my beloved Sheba-dog who seemed to share a spiritual journey with me. My awesome sister who has differing spiritual beliefs from my own. How will we all "meet' in the spiritual universe?

While I cannot answer those questions, I can create a heritage that returns the good, and remembers the power and strength of love.

I want a legacy that leaves behind the unequivocal love of a mother, the enduring faithfulness of a friend, the consummate virtue of a loving relationship, the intense, powerful, energy of a positive life, and the unconquerable depth of true love.

My experience has shown that at the very end of life, most do not ask for someone to hold their hand. A peacefulness exists - and the heartbeat stops as unobtrusively as it began.

We hold their hand for our comfort. We cling and beseech then not to leave. We reach out for answers. Is this really all there is to life? We grieve, console, weep, and morn.

A heartbeat stops. Another begins.

Take Care on the Journey,
Your friend in this life,


Anonymous said...

yea we do belive very differant but we'll always be together! mom, ms ruthie or death can never stop that. As long as I'm a thought in your mind, I'm still alive in your heart, just not here in body.
You will leave a awesome legacy, of love, caring, great mom, and the bestiest ever sister****
love ya

Linda Meikle said...

Thanks, Sandy. We've been through thick and thin as abandoned sisters, but always unconditional love for each other.
I love you too.