As a nurse working on a cardiac floor with some very sick patients, I am faced with my own mortality every time I swipe my badge and face my patients.
Lately we have had some patients who have come to us for what they thought was a simple pain or discomfort. We do our tests and we find cancer that has been growing for months if not years. I took care of a dear lady for a few nights and she has recently been told that she has masses all throughout her upper body, but we're not sure whether or not they are cancerous and how to even go about getting a biopsy for them to find out if the masses are malignant. The first night I had her she told me that she didn't even know what to feel. She didn't feel like she could cry for herself and she didn't feel sorry for herself. I tried to be as supportive as I could, but it was clear that she really just didn't want to talk.
The following night a simple comment she made at 4am about how she misses her computer (let me tell you that she is in her 80s and has a facebook account and frequents yahoo games and youtube) led into an almost hourlong conversation about her outlook. We went from talking about her computer and social life to her thoughts on facing her mortality. She is not ready to face what's possibly coming as she has more procedures and gets more information about her health. She isn't secure with the legacy she is leaving behind and isn't ready to leave her incredible sounding support system. She's not ready to let go.
I wish I could've spent more time talking to her but it was a crazy shift and I was feeling the pressure of getting around to the rest of my patients to draw their morning labs.
I've been thinking about our conversation the past few days and have some questions. I hope that when it comes time for me to leave this life that I am satisfied with the life that I've lived and the legacy that I'm leaving behind, but how many people can honestly say this about their lives? At the age of 23, I can certainly say that I am not satisfied with the life that I've lived. I don't know that I've even done anything worthy of 'leaving a legacy' at this point in my life. There are so many things that I still want to learn, see, and experience. God willing, I will have plenty of time to make a life for myself that has little regret and much satisfaction.
The song of the past few days is Carrie Underwood's "While We're Young and Beautiful."
I'm young and I need to remember to live each moment as if it's my last and to never take what I've been given for granted.