A Moment of Silence


For those of you who don’t know, I work two jobs.  One is in critical care and the other is in a half-way house for women with substance abuse and mental health issues.  I’ve been doing both jobs for about four years now and it has been an exhausting but extremely rewarding haul.

Sweet-luscious @ photobucket

When I started working at the half-way house there was a woman who had been there just a few months and she was a couple years older than me.  She’d had a long life of drugs,  alcohol, physical abuse and depression; both of her adult children were following in her footsteps and she was completely fed-up with the whole process.

As she progressed through the program, we cultivated a relationship.  Our personalities were very different and I was not especially fond of her overall.  She had a  difficult time letting go of old behaviors and toxic people from her past.  When situations got “tough”, she  reverted  to the old habits of manipulation and bullying; the whole staff spent significant time calling her out.

AGKeene

She graduated,  returning to her home where she dealt with her adult addict children and her formerly abusive spouse.  I was extremely skeptical of  her continued success. Weeks came and went. She kept in touch, sponsoring new women entering the program and continuing to lead her family by example.

About a year after graduation she called to say she had been diagnosed with lung cancer and she wanted to thank us for giving her her life back.  She went through chemotherapy and radiation, continuing to work with women in addiction and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to live the last part of her life sober and straight.

Indiangirl-19

She died a few weeks back. Last night her husband brought her belonging to the half-way house for the ladies to go through and pick what they needed.  She had remembered what it was like to move in –with only the clothes on her back–  and she wanted to help others as she had been helped.

I stood in the lobby bawling like a baby with residents gathering around me.  We looked through her things and I smiled as some of the ladies found their first pair of jeans since being sober & straight.  Little things matter and small gestures change the world for someone.

I love you and I’m proud of you.

This moment of silence is for you.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. spicyt
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 16:49:20

    What a wonderful and touching story! You are helping people and really making a difference in their lives and they in yours. Beautiful.
    Tammy

    Reply

  2. phylor
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 22:00:40

    Thank you for sharing this story. It’s nice to know that a lasting difference can be made in peoples’ lives. And, that such positive things can be passed forward even when the person is no longer with us. She left quite a legacy in you and those you both helped.

    Reply

  3. Wendy Burnett
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 13:52:42

    You just made me bawl like a baby. It’s so nice to hear when someone is able to turn their life around, and actually remembers the folks that are where they came from.

    Thanks for the post, and thanks for being there for the people who need you.

    Reply

  4. hibernationnow
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 11:17:58

    This was a lovely tribute to your friend. Imagine how important you were to her and you probably moved a lot of people. You made a difference in her life, and probably others that you don’t know about yet. Thank you, on behalf of her and others. You made a difference! Laurie

    Reply

    • Autoimmune Maven
      Mar 30, 2011 @ 11:30:12

      Much appreciation Laurie. This is my first experience with a former client passing away. In critical care it’s part of the process; it’s so different when the focus is outside the hospital & in the “real” world….Thanks, thanks, thanks!!

      Reply

  5. shoshana kleiman
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 10:20:22

    Beautifully said. Warm hugs for all you do. Someone like you helped me when I needed it.

    Reply

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