The morning began with some yoga because I actually made it out of bed before the last alarm for once. After my normal breakfast of muesli, yoghurt, and a Thai banana (way better than any bananas back home!), I biked over to Hands of Hope as usual.
We had our morning meditation and meeting. Antonia shared any updates on orders (and especially custom orders) with the producers. Then we all headed in to start work by 9am.
Antonia and I conferred with a couple of people on certain orders under way. We chose colors for a custom order of notebooks. We showed Antonia how we were packing another custom order of a variation of our Spunky Angels - and made sure the colors would look alright.
Shortly thereafter, Antonia and I headed out the door to go back to the Garden for our weekly patient activity. Antonia always does very hands-on activities - that move your body and often involve hand-eye coordination. This day, we cut off the bottoms of waste baskets to make for a pickup game of basketball. Sitting in a circle, we first warmed up with a game of 'keep away'. Everyone got really into it.
Then each patient got to have a shot at making the ball into the basket - each round involving a smaller size of basket to challenge ourselves! To end, we played another made-up game (Antonia is good at this kind of thing!) with clips. The clips were like hair-clips, and each person who was ‘IT’ had to try to clip 5 different people on their clothing within a minute. Silly but fun.
Antonia and I returned to Hands of Hope to finish our morning. I went back into the land of editing logos, reviewing emails for potential new markets with Antonia, and printing off any logos the packing team needed.
Lunchtime arrived too soon, and it was just me and Antonia. The social workers were away at an off-site event… It has been hot, hot, hot lately. Like high’s in the 100’s every day. Antonia suggested that I rest and even take a longer lunch if needed. I rested a bit, but pulled myself together for the afternoon of massage for the Hands of Hope producers.
After finishing up a few administrative tasks, I began my afternoon of massage. Several of my coworkers came up to me asking if I would have time to massage them today - I said that I hoped so but wasn’t sure!
As I started my third chair massage of the afternoon, Antonia got a call about one of our producers who has been fighting off cancer for several months. Let’s call him Brad. Apparently his condition had gravely deteriorated, and we didn’t know how many more hours he had. Antonia quickly organized a couple of groups to go out to visit him; I hopped in one of the pick-up trucks with her and about 8 other producers. We drove the 45 minutes to his home.
I had gone to visit Brad about a month ago, and while he was in pain and fairly weak then, you could at least recognize him. This visit was much different. There were at least twenty people milling about his property, signaling that he needed as much support as possible and that the end may be near. When we first saw him, none of us would have recognized him. His face was so swollen. He could barely talk, had a catheter, was breathing with the assistance of oxygen, and barely moved while we were there.
We spent about two hours with Brad, partially waiting for the next Hands of Hope producers to arrive. Brad complained that he was hot, so we wiped his limbs and chest down with a damp washcloth intermittently during our stay. We fed him water in very small increments from a spoon. I did a little energy work on him, since he said that his chest and lung area were bothering him.
Awhile into our stay, I got a side angle of his legs, and they were so thin. It seemed like there was a huge space between the tendons of his hamstring and IT band - where there would usually be more muscle mass.
My coworkers were so lovely with Brad. Antonia checked in with him and told him everyone who was there. He was lucid and understood. Everyone took turns gently caressing his arm or holding his hand or feet.
We came back to Hands of Hope late around 5:30pm (usually everyone is heading home shortly after 4pm), and I was soon enwrapped in my husband’s shared understanding and supportive embrace. Thank God for that.
Wednesday was a day that was hard and long and hot yet had moments of the ordinary, but I will never forget it nor do I want to forget. May we all send some loving thoughts and prayers to Brad, his friends and his family.