advice from hospice care staff

Yesterday, Howard Rassier, Rebecca’s dad, passed away under the attentive care of hospice staff at Our Lady of Peace.

Howard was not the most emotive man, except when he’d smile at his own dry wit. But he showed his love in deeds. In this regard, our house and household is full of Howard’s love.

One of the pieces of advice Rebecca received from staff a couple of times was “Today is the best day.”

Of course, they were speaking these wise words specifically regarding being with a person in hospice. “Today is the best day” to say or do the things that would be most meaningful for the short time you have left with a loved one. For Rebecca that meant being by Howard’s side as much as she could the last 10 days of his life. Some of that time was spent outside an emergency room, some time in a hospital, and then the last six days in hospice. Rebecca shortened some workdays, took some days off, and spent nearly all of last weekend with him. Each day was the best day to be there for Howard.

Now, I don’t want to make the phrase trite, but the first minute I heard “Today is the best day,” I thought it was general life advice provided by the staff. Perhaps it was because when Howard was admitted to Our Lady of Peace he was fully cognizant. On the second day, Rebecca and Howard looked at old pictures and fun paperwork from Howard’s past. Yup, that day was the best day to do those things. But then Howard deteriorated very quickly, sleeping a lot and sometimes, when awake, he did not always seem to know where he was. The phrase took on extra meaning.

Again, I don’t want to make the phrase trite, but it really is good life advice. I say this, as readers of this blog know, that not every day is the best day for me. Saying or doing things as if that were the best day would seem and would be completely out of place.

But on the days that I do feel well, I really should be treating those days as the best days. The best days to show Rebecca how much I love her; the best days to strengthen relationships with friends, family, and colleagues; the best days to live my values; the best days to take care of myself (because tomorrow will be better for that); and on and on and on.

Friends, today is the best day.