Thursday, March 11, 2010
It was one of those spring days we wait for all year long. The bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and red bud trees in South Texas were in full bloom. The air seemed to be deliciously scented with jasmine and there was a welcome feeling of warmth, as Gracie and I headed to the hospital. It had been a couple of weeks since we had been able to go, and I had missed it immensely. As always my anticipation level was high. Something would happen that would make a difference. I was sure of it. I always am, each time I enter the hospital with Gracie.
The staff smiled and after warm hellos and Gracie’s inevitable ‘happy dance,’ we went directly to the Case Management offices to see if there were any patients in particular that needed a little ‘Gracie medicine.’ We didn’t have to go any further. One of the case managers was coming out of her office, closing the door behind her. As she stooped to pet Gracie she said almost relieved, “Oh, this is just what we need inside. Can you and Gracie spend some time with a family member of one of the patients?” Knowing nothing of the person, the situation, or circumstances, I quietly opened the door and Gracie and I went inside alone.
Donna, obviously in great emotional pain, was sitting silently crying. I realized I had no idea what prompted the tears, all I knew was that I felt them. I recognized her grief. I had been there. So I was relying once again on this little blind dog's intuition to break the ice. I was reminded of a statement I have always found inspiring, “Be kinder than necessary for everyone you know is fighting some kind of battle.” It was then that I realized it wasn’t necessary for me to know the circumstances that were causing Donna’s pain. Gracie and I simply needed to be present for her. Sometimes the best, and only thing, we can do is simply be there. There is a connectedness in pain and suffering.
With her voice quivering, Donna said, “Oh, oh!” quite softly and tenderly, as she watched Gracie enter the very dimly lit room. I whispered an introduction, as Gracie quietly looked in Donna's direction, obviously studying the situation. Most people are thrilled to see her, but this time there were tears. I could almost sense Gracie deciding what to do. In typical Gracie fashion, she took complete charge. Soon she would share her greatest possession, as an offering from her heart.
Often a surprise is a grace and grace is a surprise, amidst sorrows and disappointments, as we ride the tumultuous waves of life. I sat down in the dark next to Donna and talked softly to her of Gracie and her work at the hospital. Quite intentionally, Gracie went to her canvas L.L. Bean bag, took out her pink plush stuffed bone, and laid it in Donna’s lap and then simply lay down at her feet. This was her gift, her offering.
Gracie’s bone means the world to her, but this time happiness was achieved by setting herself aside and making someone else happy. Donna smiled and looked deeply into Gracie’s beautiful eyes. I had little doubt but what they were indeed windows to her soul.
Gracie was my gift to Donna as well as a few very precious moments that let her know her tears were important and that someone, she will most likely never see again, cared in that time and that place, silently and honestly. It was a peaceful and beautiful exchange.
As the staff returned to complete their meeting, I stood to leave. I gave Donna a hug, and as I did so I realized why each of us is on this earth, or should be. Donna may have found a restorative moment or two in the sanctuary of Gracie’s presence, but I witnessed the truly extraordinary, as Gracie was willing to give her favorite toy to a total stranger.
Perhaps we all have a lesson to learn from this loving moment of connection.
"I am a part of all that I have met."
"We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own."
~E. M. Forster~
"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect..."
"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt."
"... joy and sorrow are inseparable. . . together they come and when one sits alone with you . . . remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."
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