Strength. (repost)

January 21, 2009 3:34:25 PM
Dear Volunteers:
It’s with great sadness that I share the news of Sean passing away
at 11:35 am this morning. It was very peaceful and Mom and Dad were there
with him.
Please take care of yourselves and each other.

This was the email I received from Leanne today, and as I positioned my mouse over the email link, I sort of predicted that this would be the news she would share with us.
My heart skipped a beat when I scanned past the first few words to the name “Sean.”
His family has been at the hospice for over 6 weeks by now, which is quite a long stay. The reason why they have been here for such a long period of time is because Sean wasn’t doing so well and needed extra care from the nurses.
Over these past weeks, I’ve gone in every Friday night and got to spend some time with his younger siblings, as well as interact with his parents.
I haven’t had the opportunity to hang out with Sean before so I regret to say that I know him very well, but his family has been remarkably strong over this difficult period of time; although they have been confined within the same four walls of the hospice for so long, they have not complained.
His parents, although burdened by the nearing end of their child, continued to remain positive, but I have also seen less of them these past couple of weeks as they must have been spending more time with Sean.
His siblings, Brittany who is 3, and Benjamin who is 7, have also been amazing.
From stories that I have heard, Benjamin used to deal with his brother’s sickness in quite a mean way and would act like a tough little boy. But recently, he’s realized that this time, it’s different, and he has become more solemn and seemingly more mature. One night he even crawled into bed with Sean.
And Brittany, the one who I have spent the most time with (@Shouj: she was the one I had to pretend to be a polar bear with)…she is blessed by interminable energy, and I was always exhausted after playing with her for even only an hour. She has never been extremely talkative, but more recently I’ve noticed that she falls into moments of deep thought; we’d be playing air hockey, and she would suddenly stop playing, sit down, lay her head on her arm on the side of the table, and just sit there. I’d ask her, “Brittany, whadya wanna do now?” And she’d answer, “Nothing.” Or we would be playing around in the Volcano room, and she’d lay out all the squishy play pieces and attempt to walk around the whole room without stepping on the ground. Then suddenly she’d sit herself down and again fall into a state of deep contemplation. Rarely do I see this with children as young as 3 years old, but with Brittany, I’ve found that there are long periods of time where I just sit and watch this girl sit and think, the room all silence save for the sound of our breathing. My guess is that even Brittany had recognized the seriousness of her brother’s situation and was feeling lost.
Last week when I was there at the hospice, the green lamp was displayed and lit on the receptionist’s desk, a silent signal to the volunteers to understand that Sean’s having troubles and that we should be sensitive to our surroundings. I never saw much of the family that day, and Brittany was tired and went to bed early.

So I’ve written all this and I guess it’s my reflection on how strong and amazing this family is.
My best wishes to them in the future, and that they will be able to lay this difficult memory in a safe place and live their lives to the fullest.


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