The lights darken on viewing night for senior project documentaries created by Ithaca College Journalism majors. The well-done films cover topics from musicians to foreign language instruction for young children. I came to see the documentary about volunteering at Hospicare.
The film begins as I tell of meeting my husband Vic in 1966. The story is interspersed with photos of Vic and me in the 1960s before skipping to 2007, the summer before Vic died when we loved and grieved for our lost future. He seemed deceptively healthy that summer, but his eyes are sad and tired. In one image, I wave goodbye to my old life.
Watching the video, I first feel self-critical, as I often do. Then I decide I like the new woman I’ve become. Yes, she is older and weathered by loss, but she doesn’t complain about the small stuff as she once did and isn’t as irritable and fussy as she once was. She’s softer and weeps more easily. She learned a thing or two from death and loss.
I love being part of a generous and loving volunteer group and feel moved by the wise words of Wendy Yettru, Manager of Volunteers, and Saoirse McClory, Director of Community Outreach. Even my dog Willow has a walk-on part, since she’s been welcome at Hospicare since she was eight weeks old.
I’m grateful to the documentary creators Erin Dunphy, Lauren Mateer, and Kyla Pigoni who captured the essential heart of hospice volunteering and did a beautiful professional job on the film. I’m grateful for all I’ve learned and all that has been healed in me through my volunteer experiences. I hear myself say, “Death is a tender time, but also a time of tremendous gifts of the heart,” and realize that I have a wider perspective now. I also know I’ve kept my promise to Vic and myself to create a good life on my own.
I’d love to hear what helps you survive loss and move forward to create a new life. I recommend another blog called “Healing My Heart at Hospicare.” You might also enjoy learning more about our world-class Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County.