There Are Heroes

My baby sister is my hero. The one our grandpa called Dutch… the child who could fall out anywhere, get puppet-walked to bed and go right on sleeping without missing a beat… grew up to be one hell of a nurse and an even better human being. She doesn’t have an RN behind her name, it’s more of an IC (I Care), but she’s a caregiver beyond measure and you’d be grateful to see her there if you needed help.

She spent three months this summer as angel of mercy to her lifetime best friend (since they were five), taking her to all the doctors’ appointments intended to address her out-of-control back pain before it was finally discovered that she was suffering not from a bad disk, but a spine full of tumors. Fifteen days later Hospice started visiting twice a week while Rita hung in as caregiver as it quickly became a full-time job, pouring love into her friend’s life while she changed sheets and finessed every detail.

I was privileged to be there with Rita as Joy took her last breath. Such love… sixty-plus years of it… heartbreaking and humbling to witness. It’s a story that’s happening about every 80 seconds in America right now with a virus moving among us, life and death played out, often with no loved ones close by… and every individual story matters. We’re so blessed if someone’s there to hold our hand and say our name and smooth Carmex on our lips as we make our exit. And if it’s from the comfort of our own bedroom with our devoted dog on the bed with us, even sweeter.

I’m so proud of my sister and her friend – there was no word of complaint that either of them had been dealt a bad hand, no going back on promises made, no shirking of the job in front of them… Joy’s to die, Rita’s to be there. It’s possible that humans are the worst thing ever to happen to planet Earth, but there are shining stars out there who pull everything together and cause it all to make perfect sense for a while. You see that circle of love and you know it’s what we live for and that it’s all worth it. In a year when everything hurts and it feels like genuine brotherly love has fled the universe, a hellish experience showed once again that if we’re supremely lucky, love and caring show up where we need them – with skin on.

Being there. It’s what you do when you love somebody.

Quintessential Joy
Rita & Joy
Rita, Joy & Caroline – the Three Musketeers – from Five to Life
Joy Anna

Image

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shirley Bogner
    Aug 24, 2020 @ 23:30:18

    Judy. When did Joy go to heaven? I didn’t know there was anything wrong. I lost contact with her. Could you give Rita my email and have her get in touch with me. I loved those girls.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Judy Smith
      Aug 25, 2020 @ 07:24:19

      It all happened fairly quickly, Shirley, since April or so, and she passed last week. Rita isn’t on Facebook right now, but I’ll give her your Messenger address. I hope you’re staying well. 💙

      Like

      Reply

  2. Michael
    Aug 22, 2020 @ 10:23:54

    I had no idea that Rita had been doing that. Bless her!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Katie Roxy
    Aug 22, 2020 @ 09:32:14

    Rita is one of our “silent heroes” who those of us who are fortunate enough to have in our lives are truly blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Bill Warshaw
    Aug 21, 2020 @ 16:55:54

    Sorry for your loss. You are lucky to have a Rita in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Dee A Poe
    Aug 21, 2020 @ 14:17:32

    I’m sorry for your and your sister’s loss, and for all who knew this dear person, Joy. I know how hard it is to take care of someone, especially at the end, but there is nothing more valuable that we as humans can do for another. I hope the great memories through the years sustain you all in these difficult days, and years to come. Your dear Rita is an angel on earth. Goodness seems to run in your family. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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