Sunday, June 1, 2008

And They're Off!

Susan and Jon left for Chicagoland this morning for an important, final visit to her hometown. She’ll get to spend time with her immediate family and stay in the Given home in Downers Grove where she grew up. She is looking forward to lunches with her sister-in-law Jan, her life-long friend Sandy, and her twin sister Barb. Plans include driving to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin to take a boat ride. Susan’s grandparents used to have a summer home on the lake and the boat will pass by where the house once stood. She has lots of pleasant childhood memories at that place.

It’s this kind of personal goal that has helped Susan maintain the highest possible quality of life – always looking forward to the next important thing. I think most people who know her would agree that it’s highly characteristic of her to be goal-oriented. It’s hard to imagine how her life could possibly be coming to an end when she always has things she wants to do or that need to be done. It is among the great ironies of this experience that even though she is dying, it’s these objectives that continue to make her life even more meaningful.

But Susan’s medical realities make it ever-more challenging to do what she wants to do. Anxiety and memory loss are ever present factors in whether she is having a good day or not. This trip would not have happened with the original plan for her to go alone. Even with Jon going with her, it was a complicated venture. Just packing medications and anticipating airport security issues was a major team effort involving all four of us and the hospice nurse. But that’s an example of how hospice is such a wonderful thing – they make these things possible. However unusual it might seem for someone in hospice to take a trip, this is a critical part of her life cycle – and therefore consistent with the hospice philosophy. Fortunately, everyone in her family knows how meaningful this pilgrimage is going to be and they know what to expect. Just like the rest of us, they’re on the journey too.

1 comment:

Marcia said...

Dear Susan, Rob, Jon, and Patrick - How swiftly a few pictures bring back such fond memories! I actually remember the day at Lake Geneva when the picture of our extended "Rice" families was taken. And Susan, remember camping together in Yellowstone with the bears?! Even though our paths haven't crossed for a long time, my prayers have been with you all always - you are showing us how to live Life as the infinite miracle it is. Love, Marcia