Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, December 08, 2006

Long Lines and Cranky People

by Julie Coulter Bellon

You can tell a lot about people when they've been waiting in line for a long time. I stood in a lot of lines today and witnessed a lot of cranky people. It was sort of funny in the fact that Christmas music was playing almost everywhere I went, but there didn't seem to be much Christmas spirit.

While I stood in line at Parent/Teacher Conferences this evening, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. We made small talk and I found out that she worked as a hospice nurse. I asked her if that was a depressing job, working with people who were dying, and she said, "You know, as a nurse, there is such a special spirit in the room when these people are passing from this life. I've only felt it one other time and that's when I was doing an obstetrical rotation and the same spirit is present when a baby is born. It's just that moment in time when we're entering or leaving this earth that is so incredibly special."

We talked a little longer, waiting for the teacher (who seemed content to chat with each and every parent for fifteen minutes), and my new friend admitted she'd had a long day. She had been called out to attend to a death, and when she got there, she went immediately to the bedroom. The husband was in the bed that he'd shared with his wife for 65 years, and he was cradling her body in his arms. Their children and grandchildren were surrounding the bed and the spirit was so strong. It was almost too sacred a moment to talk about, and her voice caught.

Needless to say, she loves her job. She gets to share these moments of grief, love, joy, and pain, and it lifts her, reminding her of what's truly important in life.

She told me something else I didn't know, and that's that harp music is made available to those who are dying. She compared it to David playing his harp to soothe the tortured mind of King Saul and said that there's just something about harp music that is comforting. No one seems to understand it, but it has been proven to work.

At this point, it was finally her turn to go in and speak with the teacher, but I thought a lot about what she said and the scenes she'd described to me. I decided that she had described to me what Christmas should really be about. Having your family surrounding you, with a comforting, soothing spirit so strong that you can feel those sacred moments and memories enfolding you. And of course, I am very grateful for the birth of a Savior that made having that family for eternity a reality. The harp music would be a bonus for me.

So at the end of a very long day, I am truly grateful that I stood in line and made a new friend who was able to remind me that Christmas is a time for loving—-that our time on this earth is limited so we should never limit our love and kindness, and we should be sharing our "Christmas spirit" all year round. Even in long lines with cranky people.


At 12/10/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger FPNP said...

Lineups at Christmas isn't that part of the fun!-NOT
Talking to strangers in line about sacred things like death and dying is a rare privelege. I worked on a hospital ward for the terminally ill and I can say from experience that what that hospice nurse said is true and more. I wish my family lived closer so I could share special moments that give perspective to eternity

At 12/11/2006 12:40 PM, Anonymous Marnie Pehrson said...

I hesitate to post this lest people think I'm weird, but I like to go to LDS funerals for this same reason. They remind you of what is important and there's something special about knowing a good person, who did their best to follow the Savior, has gone on to their reward in His presence. It always makes me rededicate myself to the important things in life.

Beautiful post, Julie.

At 12/11/2006 1:38 PM, Blogger Sabrina2u said...

I recently had a very close friend die and I asked the hospice nurses about the harp music and they said that not all hospice services offer that. I just thought that all hospice was the same, but there are different agencies that offer different things. They told me that they didn't have a contract with a harpist and cannot offer that at this time. I was so dissapointed, since I knew that it was so soothing to the family and the person who was dying in my last experience.
Oh a happier note. Mrs. Bellon, I love your books!!!


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