I’ve learned so much this year: things that cannot be easily quantified, tallied or listed on a résumé. I’ve learned about work, about faith, about friendship, about truth, about happiness, about illness, about suffering, about death, about love, and about life.
I can tell you that the words Care, Comfort, and Heal have a much deeper meaning for me now than they did before I lived them through ministry. Working as a pastoral care visitor in the ER, I learned the role of presence, of just being with people, and just how caring, comforting, and healing it was.
Working with the residents of Harmony Square in St. Joseph’s Manor helped me appreciate the worth of the journey of suffering, and the redemption it can bring. Over the past months, I’ve met and gotten to know many great people there. I’ve witnessed many journeys to the end, but one stands out. I took care of one woman nearly every morning that I worked there. I helped with the basic dressing, bathing, etc., but I also helped her when she was confused about where she was, or who I was, or what time she was in. I must have done something right because, after a few months, she would always greet me with the biggest smile – even when she was in pain, or when I woke her up out of a pretty deep sleep. Needless to say, I grew quite attached to her. She suffered from a disease that caused great discomfort and pain, but I was blessed to see that in the past few weeks, as she made her final journey, she no longer suffered from uncertainty –she knew where she was going. She passed away just last week, in the company of her family and friends. She found peace, and I cannot express how blessed I feel to have seen her reach that peace. Witnessing her journey is something that will stay with me forever, and, I suspect, it will shape how I practice certain parts of medicine.
I’ve been so inspired and moved by what so many residents, patients, coworkers, sisters, RMCs, and other community members have both shared with me and done for me.
This has been a wonderful, life-changing year, and I will certainly miss everyone, but I will always carry what I learned with me.
-Helen served as a Pastoral Care Visitor and as a C.N.A. in St. Joseph’s Manor. She will be attending medical school in the fall.