Sweet Secrets

Sharon shared sweet secrets of precious events in life with me. She wanted desperately to publish her story to leave a life legacy and give hope to others if they experienced similar happenings. Her time ran out. With deepest respect, I will share her story with you. Thank you for remembering this lovely woman.

“Rapid response room 5622.” The nervous operator repeatedly blared over the hospital intercom stealing away any possible Monday morning serenity.

Grabbing my binder, I glanced at my patient worksheet and cringed. Sharon is in that room. And I headed for the elevator.

My first encounter with Sharon was about a week prior.

Crowned with thick, shoulder-length silver hair, shiny brown eyes, and engaging personality, she suffered with Heart Failure (HF) and rhythm issues. My role as HF coordinator included meeting and educating patients on ways to manage life with this chronic disease. Prior to reviewing a stack of educational materials, I loved to discover preferences, support systems, family and work history. I'd simply say, "Tell me about your life."

“My life? You want to know about my life?

Okay. My one and only sister Kathy, terrorized me as a child. She pulled me around the house by my hair. Always mean as a snake during the day, but something weird happened in the dark of night. As kids, we slept in the same bed. Sometimes I felt so sad and lonely, I’d turn away from her and sob into my pillow. Like a broken faucet, once tears started, I couldn’t turn them off.

But my crying bothered Kathy. She always slipped her hand in mine under the covers and squeezed it real tight until I went to sleep.”

Sharon leaned back in the gold hospital recliner and savored the memory. Diving in to life review, I found a natural storyteller and artist willing to share freely.

“I outlived most of my family. I married but it didn’t last once my husband knew both our little boys were doomed to a shortened life expectancy from muscular dystrophy. My boys died young, but God gave me stories. I know they are in heaven with my sister.

One night the dog made a racket and barked down the hallway to the boy’s bedrooms. I quickly went to check on them and found them fast asleep.

Chills covered me when I walked through this cold misty vapor in the hall. I brushed it off as lack of sleep or a crazy dream, headed back to my room and fell into bed.

Morning came and at breakfast, my oldest son, Georgie excitedly announced,

"Mom, Aunt Kathy came and visited me last night!"

“That’s not possible. Aunt Kathy isn’t in town.”

“Mommy, I know it was her. She patted my head and kissed my forehead like she always does.”

“And the phone rang with the news that Kathy died in the night.”

Sharon continued. “Kathy made another dreadful visit to Georgie. One afternoon he rolled his wheelchair close to my recliner in the living room. His look of seriousness startled me.”

“Mom, I don’t want you to be upset, but you need to know I’m going to die soon.”

Oh, no you are not. I won’t have you talking like that. You are not going to die. What makes you think such a thing?”

       “Yes, Mommy I am. Aunt Kathy came and told me.”

And my wheelchair bound boy died shortly afterwards.
One night after Georgie’s death, I heard my sweet BJ laughing, talking, and playing in his room before he went to sleep. The next morning I asked him,

“What were you playing last night. Sounded like you were having so much fun.”

“Oh, Mommy, Georgie came and played with me.”

“Georgie came to see you?

“Yes, Mommy.”
“Well how did he leave? I didn’t hear the front door.”
“That’s the very best part of all. He opened up my closet door and he ran up this really cool staircase to heaven.”

“And I cried. My wheelchair bound Georgie hadn’t walked in years.”

Sharon was my 67-year-old artist patient hospitalized due to heart complications who seemed like a prisoner of war. Once I discovered she was an artist, I brought color art books and pencils, a composition notebook, and the guidelines to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I explained the need for miracle and angel stories and we perused the guidelines. Grabbing up the composition book, she immediately took to writing her stories of hope and encouragement.

A woman of steadfast faith, she believed without a doubt in a heavenly reunion with her sister Kathy and her sons. Excitement flared with the thought that her stories could deliver hope to anyone who suffered a similar journey of loss.

Energized by this new mission, Sharon’s spirits lifted. A new purpose reduced the angst of several more days of antibiotics, interventions, and mobility restrictions.
My encounter with Sharon happened during COVID-19. Visitors were restricted. Anxiety reigned. Multiple rapid response or Code Blue calls rang out over the hospital intercom daily. Many of us stopped in our tracks, shuddered, and prayed. But that Monday morning, I actually ran to the rapid.
I stood outside in the hall of Sharon’s room, as I watched my friends and rapid response team fly into action. They whisked her to the ICU. Rapid deterioration resulted in the need for a ventilator and multiple infusions. I checked with her nurses daily.
When the cardiologists decided to send her to a higher level of care at a University Hospital, I went to her bedside. Often patients on ventilator assistance receive paralyzing agents to help reduce resistance to the respiratory support. Sharon did not have paralytics that morning. Wrist restraints tied her arms down to prevent pulling out any lines or tubes. She looked so helpless and scared. Her lovely brown eyes said she not only recognized me, but was glad to see me.

I slipped my hand under the sheet and held her hand tight.

“Sharon, I’m not Kathy, but I want you to know how grateful I am to know you. I will be praying for you. I am so glad you shared the wonderful faith stories with me. Please don’t be afraid.

The nurses and physicians will love you no matter where you are. Regardless what happens, you know God has held you in His hands for years. He provided you, Georgie's, and BJ's amazing encounters to proclaim His love and the existence of heaven. Anyone who knows your stories will receive hope.”
She nodded. And I prayed with her. A very special lady with a rock solid faith. Sharon survived the transfer but ended up losing the fight. She died at the University hospital. In life, she drove wheelchair transport for the local hospital and left behind friends and a loving church family.

During COVID-19, healthcare workers ached. Bonds of friendship grew quickly as we became the only support, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the isolated patients. Doors remained shut for units to maintain negative airflow, which increased anxiety. Isolation carts filled the halls, while every unit transformed into semi-intensive care units. The healthcare professionals donned protective gear resembling space suits. A human touch, impossible for the infected. Death stormed the halls like a tornado, whipping our emotions, uprooting our efforts, and slamming us into a state of fear and uncertainty. Sharon’s presence brought reprieve, hope, and joy to those who cared for her.

Yet the unexpected happened. Sharon died. But today, holding hands, she walks or probably is running on the golden streets with Kathy, Georgie, and BJ.

Thanks for remembering my friend.
God bless you.