Patches of Godlight

Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “patches of Godlight” in the woods of our experience.

CS Lewis

bursting

Sometimes walking through the halls of the hospice inpatient unit feels like walking through the woods. Everyday I see how easy it is to get lost. Lost in grief, fear, anger, the what ifs, the shoulda…

But just when it seems like you can’t find your footing, there are the “patches of Godlight” streaming through the trees and lighting a new way.

I am so blessed by the Godlight that shows up all the time. Dark moments illuminated by laughter, reconciliation, grace, memories, kindness, and love.

This week, a woman came in to be extubated. She had suffered a devastating stroke. A vibrant, healthy and beautiful woman whose loving, husband cried as he told me he had to remember to call and cancel her hair appointment scheduled for that weekend.  She had just been working, caring for her family, and being her remarkable self on the day the stroke happened.

And just a few days later, here her family waited, surrounding her bed, for her last breath. Adjusting to new way of life. Adjusting to the reality that they would be leaving this place without her. The room was overflowing with sorrow, fear, anxiety, and nervous energy.

And then her daughter- in-law starts to stroke her hair. And asks for a comb. The woman’s hair, a gorgeous and shiny copper color, was tangled and mussed with a small shaved patch from an emergency brain surgery.

Her husband pulls a comb out of his front shirt pocket and the daughter-in -law combs the patient’s hair. It was such a tender moment.

The patient’s sister says through tears and a smile. “Honey, thank you. She wouldn’t have been able to stand having everyone seeing her hair looking like this!”

Then what starts as a stifled chuckle erupts into raucous laughter throughout the room.

After this, the whole family began to share with me how much pride this woman took in her appearance. I had the honor of hearing stories about this woman: her deep love, her mama bear protectiveness, her delicious Brunswick stew and her fantastic snakeskin pumps.

And just like that her light, Godlight, streamed into the sad room.

Of course, her family still grieved her loss very deeply and will continue to do so for a long time.

But in those moments they were able to grieve her impending death, while celebrating her life.