"I don't know why, but somehow knowing that 21 year old college graduates like Brittney are spending a year thinking and praying about experiences like this makes me feel better about where we are going as a society."
There is a story of heartless and immature cruelty that is the talk around so many tables and water coolers this week. But reading the reflection that was shared with me yesterday, I was profoundly moved and like my professor, feeling better about the direction our society is heading. I, like many others, have also been inspired to see people all around the world giving small sums of their own money to a fund to help this bus monitor go on a vacation and retire. Last I checked, the fund reached $550,000. The light, it seems, is still better than the darkness, even when it's seems we are surrounded by the night.
At the end of the day, we must not forget, the light is also so much stronger than the darkness in this world, if only we choose to let it be. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did. It truly was my redemption song yesterday.
A reflection from Brittney Cavaliere
A second-year JV working in Washington, D.C., at Joseph's House, which provides hospice care for people who are homeless.
A dear resident lost his battle with liver cancer earlier this year. My heart ached for him, wishing he was sitting on the front porch to say, "Good morning, Shorty," or in his room listening to Bob Marley.
Watching him die was one of the most challenging experiences, but also a very rewarding one. It was a time when I felt God's presence so clearly, when I was able to bear witness to the beauty that rises out of death.
I spent most of that morning by his bedside, writing him a little thank-you note. There'd been a major change in him from the day before. His breathing slowed, there was no longer moaning or wincing, he was free of pain. As he slept, I watched, wrapped up in the mystery that surrounded me.
In the afternoon, our nurse came to find me. "He is nearing the end. If it's important to you, and I know it is, you should go to his room."
As I entered, I knelt at the foot of the bed and placed my hand on his foot. That's where I remained until he took his last breath. I stayed there for many moments after. He died peacefully, just as I'd prayed all week.
Three friends and co-workers entered the room soon after. Balaji placed one hand on my friend's leg and took my hand in the other. Tina and Sam joined us in our chain as we mourned together, grieved together, remembered together.
We began the Joseph's House rituals and lit a candle by the bed. Someone turned on his stereo. Bob Marley's Redemption Song played. The word "freedom" kept repeating itself.
That was when I knew he was free. He left this life for one of true joy, singing his redemption song.
The world lost a love-filled man, a teacher, a passionate human being, but we gained an angel. For that, I am eternally grateful.