Hospitals…a place to find healing and where healing is no longer possible. Entering a hospital can be a positive experience, especially when going in for a treatment that will improve one’s quality of life. But it also can be where a patient can discover that healing is not possible, that our time on this planet is drawing to a close, that it’s time to put affairs in order and prepare goodbyes.
Two years ago I made this journey with my father. Years of fighting a battle that could not be won, finally a few months in hospice before moving on to the next big adventure. Now, two years later, I prepare to walk this journey with my mother. A trip to the hospital, tests run, diagnosis determined, hospice prescribed. She will spend her last days?, weeks? or months? on the shore of Lake Superior. She may see the lake once or twice, or not at all. It all depends on her energy level. But at least she is nearby rather than two hours away. She is minutes away from my home, near the lake that means so much to my wife and me. The winds that blow down the lake carries its spirit over the sand dunes and through the health center, bathing her in the peace of Gitchi Gummi. After ninety-four years, she can rest as the power of the lake carries her, guides her and comforts her on her next grand adventure. As her last breath sighs forth from her frail body, the wind off the lake will carry that breath onward, taking it to places we can only imagine until each of us breathes our last and joins all the other breaths dancing and swirling in the wind.