I don’t know how people survive in this world without a church. When Gavin was ill, we got so much out of the personal announcements at the beginning of services. It was a great comfort to be reminded in human scale and real time of the great circle of life: not only were other people fighting disease, busy being born, and learning to appreciate the world around them, but smaller things happened too: kids would announce that they’d adopted puppies, seniors might share that they’d found tango lessons alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As we faced the worst, we felt part of a rich and wonderful world, one in which everybody hurts sometimes. As time went on I felt grateful to share good news many times with those whose eyes had met mine over and over when things were sad.
Today, nearly five years later, one of those announcements hit me just right. It had two parts and the whomp snuck up on me.
“We’ve just heard from Sue that Freddie Sampson will be sent home tomorrow... for hospice care.”
Freddie is a sweet fellow in his 80s who’d been hit by a car a few weeks ago. We’d been spared most of the updates but I know from my friends’ stories that multiple operations after a major impact like the one he suffered don’t mean that he’s expected to come out of it.
His wife, Sue, is one of those grandmas who always has a twinkle to spare: she’s Miss November, lifting a champagne flute in a soaking tub full of bubbles, in the calendar of nude church ladies we’re doing for 2010.
Yes, I advocate for hospice. I talk about end-of-life decisions and bandy cancer statistics about at cocktail parties (and yes, I do sometimes get invited). But it doesn’t get any easier to hear that this lovely woman will be joining our club.
Closing in on the longest night of the year, with flu season’s worst still ahead of us, waiting for our mortgage to be approved in the worst economy of a generation, all I can feel is very, very sad to share in this loss.
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