Tis the season to be Jolly ???
My typical workday consists of helping people die, and two evenings a week mediating divorces and child custody. Sounding jolly so far?? I became a Licensed Mental Health Counselor several years into already having a career as a Hospice RN. Initially that goal was to incorporate my passion for bereavement counseling, coping with illness, loss of loved one, etc. It seems that over the years my practice (bread and butter) grew into loss of relationship. Today I sat in the Marshalls parking lot, talking on the phone to one of my clients for almost an hour. My cell phone is used for making and breaking counseling appointments. It is rarely abused so I answer most calls when possible. In this case it was the aggrieved husband carping his case against the alleged, unfaithful wife. When you spend 30 minutes on the phone with one, you must inform the other .. . the rules of "couples counseling." So when this call ends I will have to make another.
It does not escape me that the Christmas music is playing off in the distance. Tree lights twinkle in my rear view mirror. Shoppers bustling in and out of cars around me. I glance at my watch feeling guilty that I need to end this call. I'm not in my office. I'm not going to bill for this time. I have to return that pretty silver/black skirt. Then, as he keeps talking I become more focused. His pain becomes more palpable. He is in his car outside his workplace, taking time off to get some perspective and hold his emotions together. He wants his family back. He wants to be just one of the many carefree shoppers. We talk a little more. I try to provide some support and we set up an appointment.
As I enter the mall, I wonder if I have paid my share of emotional dues over the years. Is that the twelve years of Catholic school making me take personal inventory? I run down the list; yes, significant, devastating pain with a divorce. Yes, debilitating pain with major reconstructive skin cancer surgeries. And of course, the worst, the phone call that comes telling you your child was hit by a car while riding her bike. A drunk driver who left 90 feet of skid marks before hitting her. She is not conscious. The ambulance is taking her to the hospital, I can meet them there. She is stabilized with one surgery and then transported to Boston for another. She now lives with seven pins and four plates in her jaw, but she is beautiful and healthy. I am happy, even joyous in this holiday season. I rationalize that maybe that is what gives me the strength and even desire to do this work. My heart goes out to those who are in pain, emotional or physical. The season does have added pressures to be jolly... or is it just a nudge to help us recognize and count some of our blessings?