Where are you—Oh, where are you when I stop by? Curled in your bed or slouched in your chair—so tiny and fragile, I’m afraid you might break. Mouth often open and yet you don’t speak—or chatter, not stopping, but what does it mean? Your eyes, they gaze widely but seem only to see those people and objects not obvious to me. You pick and you pull at a myriad of things—even pinch my arm hard—I’m wondering why. I see you. I know you are there—but where are you really when I stop by?
I thought I could change things—who told me to try? I have to do something; isn’t that why I stop by? What shall I say? What shall I do? Take over—make things better—surely that’s what I must try. It comes to me slowly—my ideas are not right. I can’t really change things even though I might try. I know in my heart this is how it’s to be and yet it is hurtful, so very hurtful to see. I’ve found you, I think, but lost my own way. Where am I in all this? I really can’t say.
Slowly then, I’m beginning to see the “you” who has been there and the “who” I should be. The past is often cloudy, the future unclear but of this I am certain—we have our moments together when I stop by. I am here for the you who has always been waiting, just not easy to see, who speaks to me now and wants me to be—a friend, a companion on these travels so hard. No longer do I wonder what it is I should do. I know now—just be here, just be here with you. Where are you? Where am I?
Together on our journey—together.
“—for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise”
Kitchen Table Wisdom
Rachel Naomi Remen
Emilie Gillanders is a Member of IVC’s National Board of Directors and an Ignatian Volunteer in Northern Virginia. She wrote this piece in August 2013 as part of an end of year project for a class she took called “Companioning the Dying”. Emilie says it is more relevant for her hospice work, which is not yet her official IVC placement, but still very relevant to her IVC work at the Fairfax County Adult Day Health Care Center as many of the participants suffer from dementia and in their later stages become part of the hospice program. Emilie graduated from Georgetown School of Nursing and has always been drawn to caring for the elderly. Through her IVC and Hospice work, she has discovered that one of the most precious gifts we have to give is our attention.