Thursday, 14 April 2016

The First Visit

I went on my first hospice visit today. I shadowed a mentor volunteer who has been with hospice for many years, to see one of his long time patients. I will have my first solo visit on Saturday, with my own. "There but for the grace of God go [he]," I thought, as I followed the volunteer, himself about 80 but active and alert, through the halls of the facility, lined with people younger but more decrepit, and spoke with our patient, barely into retirement and so ill.

There but for the grace of God go I, I will think one of these days, when my patient is closer to my current age.

There is a lot of luck and chance involved in the business of living.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Taking Time

I told my therapist a few months ago that I feel confused by the emergence of depression in myself these last few years. I used to be a person who felt joy easily, and found it in simple places. I told her that I don't understand why I've become more depressed as my life circumstances have become, in many ways, better. I am vastly less ill now than I once was, but feel so sad so often.

She suggested that when I was sick, I had time to find joy. Little was expected of me then but to survive each day. I had time in abundance and when I was able I sat in my back yard and watched my garden grow, or my cats catch moths and chase crickets; laid on the picnic table on my porch on a summer night and stared into the cosmos. Now, as a more well person, I feel the weight of expectations (many self imposed) and responsibilities that I didn't then have. I, she suggested, allow myself less time to find happiness now.  

I wonder if this is something that other chronically ill people can relate to during periods of relative remission?

Since then I have made time almost each day at sunset to take photos.

It hasn't solved my sadness, my sunset photography outings have been moments I can almost always count on to feel joyful and even almost ecstatic. The natural beauty here captivates and astonishes me every time I go out. It rambles and tangles and spills and bursts here in such a diversity of color and variety. Pennsylvania has the people who have my heart, but in terms of place, my heart goes to Raleigh and its gentle fall and short winter. It's early, abundant spring. (And yes, even the high blanket of heat of the summer.) How easy it is to find loveliness here.

I went back twice for an hour each time to photograph this overflow of wisteria and yellow roses cascading over a brick wall near my house. I was entranced and enthralled by the beauty, the light, the rich smell of the flowers, the intertwining of the yellow and purple. I love the absolute abundance of flowers washing over the trees.

I have been in a partial hospitalization program for about 2 weeks in order to treat my depression. Being forced to get up and out each morning by itself has been helpful, and so is spending the day with a group of people with whom an intense and caring camaraderie quickly developed. We are all so different in nearly every way one might categorize us, and yet we are all fighting the same fight, together. I care so much about my fellow group members. I worry about them and hurt for them.

With the help of the healing, kind, warm environment there, I have come through the crisis low I was in several weeks ago. I will never be a person who lives a life that looks the way I might have expected or hoped it to, but I think I can accept that. Life will always be a little too intense for me, and at times a little too sad, with perhaps a little too much uninvited compromise. But I feel that I am armed now with some skills and hope that will carry me through for awhile. Tomorrow I will asked to be discharged so that I can resume fashioning a life for myself here. I don't know now exactly how it will look as I still have many tangled thoughts to try to understand, but what matters is that it will be, in fact, life.