Experiencing grief and walking a journey of winding roads with angels on earth.
I can still remember the day as if it happened yesterday. It was late in the afternoon on December 29th, 2007. The sun was bright outside, the air was crisp and the feel of the holidays still loomed.
It wasn’t how I envisioned that holiday season to be. I, along with my family, was sitting around my Mom’s hospital bed inside the Hospice of Arizona inpatient unit. She was imminent and we were holding her hand waiting and soaking up every second of time with her. That morning, the nurse had called and said her breathing was long and labored and she was close. We rushed over and sat and sat more. We told stories, we cried, we laughed and then we cried a whole lot more.
She hadn’t woken up in days and stopped eating and drinking over a week prior. She had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years before this moment. She underwent 2 brain surgeries, countless medicine regimes, too many doctors to count and way too many hard days. Her entire life was coming to an end and if it weren’t for the loving, selfless care and guidance of hospice, I am not sure we as a family would have gotten through that painfully awful day and all the days that came after.
She squeezed my hand. I laid on her. I cried uncontrollably as I felt her breathing stop. And, as I pulled away, I saw the most apparent vision of wholeness I will ever see. She was lifeless yet so full of wholeness and peace. Her face, which was always pulled on one side because of her condition had relaxed, her coloring looked soft and serene, her hands stopped clenching and her mouth simply smiled. She was home…with Jesus, with her Dad, her brother who had passed 6 months prior and all of our other family and friends who’s earthly life ended years prior.
I was mixed with peace knowing she was not suffering but mixed with so much heartache that my Mom was no longer here to help me, mother me, guide me, love me and support me. She would not see me marry, have kids or try new things or learn to be brave and courageous.
I know for a fact, without hospice we would have never walked our grief journey the way we did. I would have gotten stuck along the way, we would not have known what to do or how to care for her and most definitely she would not have died with dignity, pain free.
The one piece of the story I have not mentioned is that my family had been involved with hospice for over 20 years. My grandmother, a social worker, had worked for years in hospice care and eventually went on to start Hospice of Arizona, at the time, one of the largest hospices in Arizona. My Mom was her first employee. She shared the good news of hospice as their first marketing representative. She got to sit with doctors, care homes, families and facilities to bring unknown knowledge to their practices and to their lives.
I remember even when my Mom had undergone brain surgery, shortly after her Parkinson’s diagnosis, she still made visits to the adult care homes she served making sure the owners had what they needed to care for their patients and their families.
My grandmother, the strongest and most selfless woman on the planet, continued to work despite the crumbling of our family, the journey of grief she was beginning to walk with her son and my Mom’s health deteriorating.
I too had volunteered with hospice, spent countless years growing up watching what my family did as work and soon after I graduated college, I took on a job as a community relations representative.
To this day, that was and will always be the most rewarding work I had done. Sharing precious time with families who were heartbroken, reaffirming the needs they had would be met and seeing a glimpse of peace come over them when they found out they didn’t have to walk death alone.
We help young ones thrive, we value the impact of miracle workers in the ER, or oncology departments – and rightfully so – but we sometimes fail to see the MEGA impact of those who see our loved ones through the end of life journey.
I am grateful for the angels that walk this earth who were appointed by God to do His work with families in utter heartache. To help us. To love us. To care for us. To walk hand in hand and show us the way. My grief journey has been winding roads but that day changed my life and hospice services helped make the worst day and the days of my life, bearable.
I am thankful. I miss my Mom but the last memory of her wholeness would not have been possible without the care of the angels that day.
Andrea Robinson, wife, mother of 2 children, and former local TV news anchor, was gracious enough to share with Arizona Care Hospice her experience with hospice & hospice care, including her first exposure to hospice and her grandmother’s journey, her experience as a hospice volunteer, and how grateful she is for hospice professionals and their service. Visit Andrea Robinson’s website at andrearobinsontv.com and learn more about her community of like-minded women learning to love through daily intention, gratitude, and community.
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