Just like many people, I tend to do a lot of reflection around the New Year. It seems natural to dwell on the year behind and daydream about the year ahead from time to time. I do this naturally, so I was a bit miffed when something happened on New Year's Eve that added a lot of context to my reflecting and daydreaming.
On 12/31 we found out that a recent patient of ours had died in the hospital. By recent, I mean that he stayed with us less than 10 days ago. He arrived very ill from the hospital, and he worsened while he was here. I do not think there is much more that we could have done or done better, but I will never know. He was with us for barely a week, so I did not come to know him well. Actually, I did not come to know him at all.
The reasons I could give you for not knowing him are endless, but they would just be rationalizations. The very short version is that I did not take some of the ample time I have been bragging to you all about and spend it with him. I did not try to communicate, I was not present, and I did not even attempt to make a positive impact on what turned out to be the end of this man's life. He was sicker than most everyone else, and I did not go to him. I did not love him, I did not show love to him, and I most certainly did not make him feel loved. The even shorter version - I failed.
I fail a lot and I typically beat myself up for it, but that is how I learn - that is who I am. A lot of times I try to do too much, sometimes (like this time) I end up doing too little. Even when I seek balance, I'm off-balance: I have never really had balance. Even this blog does not seem balanced.
I remain hopeful for 2016. I am hoping to continue to make life less about me; maybe even find a way to make this blog less about me. To redouble my efforts to make Simplicity, Spirituality, Community, and Social Justice a permanent fixture in my life. To give more, try more, fail some more (but hopefully differently), and to 'just love' and make sure those around me know they are loved.
And I hope that those are all good things, but in the end it doesn't help that patient. A man who came to us because he probably had the equivalent of what I gave him: nothing. I will pray for his soul and for his forgiveness, but as I write this it seems that it is still just all about me.