It was a Saturday morning when I had to work.
Little did I know that a great lesson was waiting for me behind one of these closed doors…
Just like any other patient, I approached this frail looking old man wanting to help him with his daily needs. He had a non-rebreathable mask (the kind of mask you see on television when someone is very sick) over his nose and mouth. He clearly had difficulty breathing. As I went closer, I realised his fingers and toes were grossly purple – a sign that there’s insufficient oxygen to the extremities.
“Oh dear, this man is very sick.” I thought.
Following this thought, I immediately connected with the reports that were passed in the morning. There’s a man in our cubicle that is on DNR or AND. In our hospital, A.N.D means Allow Natural Death, so no active medical interventions will be done if his conditions deteriorates – as it is determined by the physicians and agreed by the patient and the family that there will be no quality of life with aggressive medical interventions. He is also on palliative care, meaning that comfort measures will be provided for him until he moves on.
I tried to assist him in whatever way he needed because he was very weak. I gave him some fruits and a few sips of coffee. As I was doing so, I also realised that his mental capacity remains intact. I talked to him about a few things in a slow manner, because after every sentence, he had to catch a few breaths…
In the midst of the activities, I also noticed this letter at the bedside. On the envelope, it said “To Daddy”…
“What could be inside this letter?” I thought.
“Who wrote this?”
“Is it something very serious?”
Shortly after, I re-entered the room with the palliative nurse after I cleared some of the utensils that was used earlier on. The palliative nurse went on to do his assessment to make sure that he can give him the comfort. Is there a broken skin? Is he in pain? Is there something that he need to know for a good closure?
“There’s a letter for you, Sir. Do you want to read it?” asked the palliative nurse.
“Yes…but I…need spectacles…” he said.
The palliative nurse and I tried to find the spectacles but couldn’t. So we asked if we could read it out for him. He said, “Yes…, Please…” and he let out a heavy breath…
The letter went,
Thank you for bringing us into the world.
We know that you have done a lot of wrongs in the past, but we want you to know that we have forgiven you.
Hope you will have a better next life.
Thank you and bye bye.
Son & Family”
Silence fell in the room. The oxygen coming out from the peak flow meter was deafening.
“Thanks….means… a lot” the man said, sounding like he choked on air. Then we gently provided an assuring touch/pat on his shoulders…
This was a moment that I really want to remember and encapsulate.
This was a moment of reconciliation between 2 generations.
This was a moment that clicked with me on the inside.
As a nurse, I can be a bridge to many.
This is what I want to do for others.
And this is also why I want to share this story with you (the reader).
Because in the life of this dying man and his family, I see that forgiveness and reconciliation can happen at the end of the day and at the end of one’s journey.
And if that is true, it can also happen now.
Why wait for the end?
Because if we can see that you and I are imperfect…
That sometimes people who are supposed to protect us can also hurt us…and we who are supposed to protect can also hurt someone we love…
We will understand that we all need forgiveness.
And forgiveness brings about reconciliation.
This is just like why Jesus came down 2000years ago for us.
So that we may receive forgiveness through the cross.
That we may have a relationship back with God.
Don’t wait until your last breath.
The goodness of a restored relationship awaits after reconciliation.
Forgiveness is an act.
Forgiveness is a process to a restoration.
Forgiveness is your decision.