2011-09-29 / General Stories


I’m Having A Little Trouble Adjusting
(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

Alice was a strong, vibrant, independent lady. Incredibly physically active, she spent almost all day every day on her feet working. She raised a large family and was now up to her ears in grandkids.

Then one day she collapsed. They discovered a tumor, well advanced and inoperable.

When I entered the room, she was surrounded by family, talking up a storm, smiling from ear to ear. There was lots of laughter. After a while, her family began leaving, and when the last one walked out the door, Alice closed her eyes, laid her head back on the pillow, and sighed. She laid there breathing heavily.

I just sat and waited.

After several minutes, she smiled weakly and said, “Being strong is exhausting.” She gazed into my eyes for a few seconds before adding, “Chaplain, I’m having a little trouble adjusting to my new normal.”

I put my order in a long time ago for a smooth and steady life. I want things, some things at any rate, to be very predictable and manageable. But the curve ball, the lightning strike, the next bend in the road invariably comes. Life’s a moving target.

That means I’m going to have plenty of “new normals” to adjust to. I’m not going to like some of them. I want to adjust with grace, consideration, and love.

“I’m having a little trouble adjusting to my new normal.”

Thanks, Alice. Sometimes I do too.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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