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2013-01-24 digital edition

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2013-01-24 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

I Have This Pain Under My Heart.

I first met Sal in a small, greasy spoon establishment. He sat alone in a booth, nursing a lukewarm cup of coffee. He eyed me as I approached, noticed my name tag, and broke into a broad, toothless grin.

“You with hospice?” he asked. “Come plant yourself. Want some coffee?”

“I never refuse coffee,” I replied.

He grinned even wider. “You just passed your first test,” he said. “We’re gonna get along fine.”

Sal talked about his life. He covered the first twenty years before the waitress threatened to lock us in for the night.

As Sal shuffled toward the door, he said, “I have this pain sometimes, right here (pointing to his chest), under my heart. It’s not physical pain. You know what I mean?”

“I believe I do,” I responded.

“Okay if I talk about that next time?” he asked.

“I look forward to it,” I said.

As I watched Sal drive away in his truck, I thought about the pain our hearts carry. Hurtful words and actions. Agonizing losses. Deep regrets. Shattered dreams.

What do we do with that pain?

It must be released. If not, it sinks in deeper and makes a home in our souls. It leaks into our families and workplaces. We can become fearful, depressed, angry people.

Thankfully Sal took care of business. He released his pain. He passed with a free, unfettered heart.

It’s time to let some things go.

Thanks, Sal.

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

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