I’m harboring this anxious feeling to do something great…to accomplish, to achieve, to make my mark on this world, to make a difference. As I feel this sense of urgency, I’m compelled to reflect back on my 54 years, I realize I have accomplished what may be defined as “great” things. By no means does this mean I am satisfied nor am I finished. The realization of what I have done, however, is worthwhile. “Life reflection” we call it in the hospice world. I hope I’m early in that reflection, but a few of worthy accomplishments bear mention if for nothing but my own acknowledgement.
1. I’ve raised triplet daughters to be compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent women who respect themselves, their God, their fellow human beings, this world’s creatures, and their family. If I accomplish nothing else in this world, I’ve achieved this very great thing.
2. I’ve saved lives. As a nurse, I’ve been the one at the patient’s bedside who noticed a change and acted upon it. As a critical care nurse, I have monitored my patient’s every breath and heart beat and acted quickly and competently to ensure–God willing–that they survived a critical illness and moved on to a fuller recovery.
3. As a hospice nurse, I’ve had the privilege to be there for the dying patient, to respect their wishes for a dignified and comfortable death, and to support their grieving family. For the patient and the loved ones left behind, to make a difference at such a momentous time of life, to be there at death as a guide, an advocate, an educator and comforter…surely, this is a great thing.
4. I’ve taken in needy creatures. At this moment, I have six cats and one dog, all shelter rescues. My heart breaks for the many cats and dogs (and rabbits and guinea pigs and other hapless creatures) who are abandoned or homeless. I know that I’ve made difference in the lives of the animals in this house, and I continue to contribute financially to local shelters.
5. I have the love of an amazing and honorable man who accepts and loves me with full knowledge of my follies, foibles and failings. This is indeed a great thing and I cannot take credit for accomplishing this feat, but I must acknowledge the fact that I have found deep and abiding love. May I never forget to be grateful, responsive and attentive to my dear husband.
While it’s not an earth-shattering list of accomplishments, it still merits my acknowledgement. I don’t crave fame, although I wouldn’t snub fortune. The urgent need to contribute and improve the world around me persists, even if I can only do so in small ways. I pray I never feel there’s nothing more I can do!
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa.