My blog has been quiet these last three weeks. I have been consumed with the death of my grandfather-in-law. Right before Christmas, grandpa became sick and was struggling. Grandma, has been in chemotherapy for ovarian cancer and we discovered that despite months of treatments, the chemotherapy did not work and she was given a short period of time to live. They had been married 66 years when Grandpa departed his earthly life on January 18th. I want to take a few moments to share with you my calling.
After I miscarried Ruby in 2010, I was called. I felt a pull within me to stop working and be with my family. This was a difficult pull to understand as I had been working diligently for nearly 12 years to become a police officer. I had finally accomplished the task only to feel pulled away from it. I couldn’t describe the pull, I just knew I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. So I left. This also coincided with a new pregnancy. A pregnancy wrought with anxiety and fear that I too, would lose the new life within me.
Following his birth, I was called.
I felt deep within me that I needed to help women through their miscarriages and also through stillbirth. It was a strange feeling and one that I couldn’t understand. How could I possibly support women through such devastation? I needed to learn more so I could fully understand what that might look like so I did. I received training through Stillbirthday. I felt more prepared to support families through loss but never intended to actually use the training.
But I was called.
The phone rang and I was asked to respond to the hospital. Someone I knew had lost their baby and they needed support. I was surprisingly calm and experienced excitement. While there was great grief and despair that day, the family took great comfort in knowing they had a “person.” Their person, who could support them throughout the entire process. I left with great peace, knowing this is where I was supposed to be.
I am called.
I have been serving families for a few years now in this capacity and also publicly speak on the topic of miscarriage, specifically, first trimester miscarriage. I feel the most calm and most holy when I am doing this. It feels like God’s work. I was called.
Then grandpa got sick and I was called.
I sat next to his hospital bed on Monday, January 18th. It was about four in the afternoon. Calls to hospice revealed that they would not be able to assess him until tomorrow. I hurt. I felt a deep hurt inside. Something wasn’t right and I wanted him to go home. There was no forcing hospice and as I sat in my uncomfortableness, words came out of my mouth.
“I am going to stay with him.”
Shocked that I just made this statement, I began to cry. I do not like to cry in front of people but I did.
“He will not be alone,” came out next.
I was on autopilot. Something had overtaken me.
I was called.
Knowing where I needed to be, I departed for my home. Hubby settled in with the kids as I grabbed items I felt I would need and I returned to the hospital to sit by grandpa’s side. My attempts to focus on writing or reading were futile. They felt wrong and I stopped. I had turned on music for him and released some essential oils in the room. I dimmed the lights and shut off my computer. Then I did something I rarely do. I sat.
It’s hard to turn off my mind but in those moments, it came easy. I just sat.
I knew the moment and I have the entire account written but that’s not what this post is about. I have been called. This feeling is indescribable but some parts of it I can describe. It’s an urge, a yearn, or a pull. The call. I might also describe it as a sense of something overtaking your normal responses and giving you a different response. It’s not a response of regret or fear but you just do it. It happens and you don’t know why. The “why” may be revealed and it may not be but it’s there.
It’s hard to listen to the pull. One might fight the pull. The first calling took me two years to stop fighting and succumb to it. When I finally did, I felt peace. I feared supporting families through loss but there was a call. It took me nine months to succumb to that call. When I was called to witness my grandfathers death, it took me one second to succumb to that call. It just happened.
I never imagined I would support death in such a way (the death of a baby or the death of a loved one). After my first son was born, I was called to support women through birth and did so for five years as my only occupation (other than being a mother). I do not know why I have been called to support birth and death but there are similarities. Both are rites of passage. Both are transitions. Both can be scary, full of anxiety, fear, love, trust, faith, hope, and both need support.
There is rarely a time in our lives when we are alone but we are not alone at birth, ever. The mother is there even if no one else is there, the mother is. No baby is born without their mother. Why then, when making the transition to death, should we die alone? Dorsie didn’t die alone. I wasn’t going to let him. I would have stayed all night and I contemplated that and how it might happen. There was I time I felt like I should leave. A panic of sorts where maybe he wanted to die alone but I stayed. There was a pull. My body was forced to stay in the chair even though my mind was racing on if I was the right person or the person he would want there.
I stayed though…because I was called.