We are all here on earth to help others: what on earth the others are here for I don’t know. —W.H. Auden
I often wonder why this recovery process has to take so long. Why it has to be moving so slowly. Every once in awhile, as an answer, this thought comes back to me: because there are still people who have yet to be a part of the story. There have already been countless people involved in his recovery: from supportive friends and family to the medical workers to strangers he’s met along the way. It’s taken a village, that’s for sure.
Vernon’s new dialysis schedule has been rough. I still think its better than before in that I can be there a little more often. But even though the times are shorter, they are only about a half hour shorter, and its still difficult for him to sit so long. I’m thankful to the handful people I know who have offered to help when possible. The more I have been going myself, the more I recognize how necessary it is to have someone with him, for his own sake as well as the staff’s.
But I’ve been yapping about this subject for weeks…so let me turn to a couple of surprise blessings that came up this week instead.
Remember how Joe wanted to be Vernon’s roommate? Well, he’s been in there for a week or so now and it seems to be working out well for them. At least Joe says so. We had a great conversation yesterday while Vernon was asleep.
“I’m really having a problem with the staff not letting me take care of Vernon like I want to,” he said. “I know I can help him. I can keep my eye on him so he doesn’t fall out of bed. He could come outside in the sun with me if we get a student nurse to come with him. I think it would be good for him. And I need something important to DO. I know a lot about him now and he’s a really great guy.”
I think it might be a little bit of a liability for the staff to let another patient do the looking-after, but I was touched by his desire to help. He even wanted to be one of the sitters at the dialysis center.
“My sister can drive me there and back. I can sit with him there and distract him. I can use a smaller wheelchair. Why not? I really want to help.”
I’m tempted to let him do it, although after yesterday’s afternoon session, I can see Vernon still needs a helper who is able to use his legs, just in case. But still…what a heart of gold. And I can understand his position, he wants to be useful. Don’t we all? In a place like that, one has to be pretty creative to find a daily purpose.
He did say that he saw moving into Vernon’s room as his next chapter…he’s inspired to help him however he can.
Now, another story that unfolded this week surrounds another new friend, Valerie. I actually have never met Valerie in person, but she’s been supportive from the sidelines since last July. She first heard about his story when a mutual friend was posting daily updates and links to the blog on Facebook. She then wrote me a message, introducing herself and telling me how captivated she was by the story. In fact, at first she thought our friend was promoting a new TV show that she’d been missing out on!
Anyway, she had recently offered to look after Vernon on a Monday afternoon so I asked her last minute if she could go this week. She happened to be free and made a made a special occasion of it, dressing up in pretty clothes and sparkling jewelry, bringing a bag full of games and music, and building up the story to all her friends how nervous and excited she that she was finally going to be meeting this “very important” mystery person. I was so touched by
Here are the photos she was able to take: the two of them together, then the awful paper gown she was forced to wear over her pretty dress. Sigh. I’m sure the sparkling earrings made his afternoon though! Thank you for putting in the effort. I feel special for him.
When she did finally fill in her friends about this special person, she apologized if people had thought this mystery meeting involved an exciting celebrity. To her, she said, he was so much more than that.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson