Once in a while, I find myself really moved by a moment. These moments typically happen in the midst of many other things going on and, on their surface, seem quite common. Recently, Alissa did something that she may have considered quite ordinary, but which struck me quite profoundly.
Alissa was caring for a patient who was being transitioned to comfort care measures. She went about the tasks of extubation and then removing all the other unnecessary "baggage" from her body, including the compression boots. She then asked me for an extra pair of gloves so she could double-glove. It was what Alissa did next that touched me.
She put some kind of ointment on her feet and legs where the compression boots had been. This patient was completely unresponsive, and for all intents and purposes seemed unaware of anything, yet Alissa applied this salve, this balm to her feet and legs. And she did not simply apply it, she did so in such a gentle and caring manner that I found myself believing the patient could feel her touch and that this patient's spirit was comforted by her presence and by her touch.
After she had completed all the nursing tasks, there were a number of things she could have chosen to do next, including doffing the ponderous PPE she was wearing in the room. What Alissa did was draw up a chair, sit next to the patient, and hold her hand. One of the most sacred acts one person can commit is to bear witness to a soul leaving this life and going on.
I am truly thankful to Alissa for bearing witness to her life and to its passing. When someone holds another in a moment such as that, nothing else matters but that person and that moment, all three are in a sacred space. In two seemingly simple acts of gentleness and kindness, Alissa held this person and she held that moment, that sacred moment.
I am truly grateful to Alissa for the care she gave this patient. Grateful to her for surrounding her patient with compassion and love. Grateful to her for honoring this life and its passing. I am grateful for her presence, her vocation, and for her. It was truly an honor, a privilege, and a blessing to experience her work that day.