by Gracie Mowery

Journal Entry 1

Before I even begin this journal, I feel the need to start off by outlining how I’m going to approach it. To me, this is going to be a place of complete honesty, connection, and an open flow of my thoughts. I feel that if I were to go about this in a structured, overly-processed way, it would go against the main thing I learned through my time at Hospice—that we are all just humble humans. We all have a beginning and an end, and I want to share my experiences from an honest place. And with all that said, I’d like to begin walking you through some of my most intimate experiences, all of which took place at the wonderful institution that is Hospice of the Western Reserve.

For a brief background, I should share why I began volunteering here. One of the Teen Volunteer Coordinators came to Hathaway Brown to talk about the importance of student involvement at Hospice. The cause (providing emotional support and end of life care) moved me almost as much as the speaker. She was calm, sweet, and steady. It was like being in the room with someone who knew everything about the world and who had come to peace with it all. It was beyond comforting. I was immediately drawn to the organization, and began my placement soon after; I have been grateful of that decision ever since.

Journal Entry 5

Today when I entered Hospice I hung up my jacket and headed to the nurse’s station to see where my help was most needed. A cheerful, wonderful young lady immediately answered me. She told me of a man who was lightly sleeping and would be grateful if someone could just be there while he rests for comfort. She took me to his room and pulled up a seat for me, told him I was a friend here to keep him company, and left. I sat there and held his hand while he went in and out of sleep. Sometimes he would ask me questions because he was confused. I assured him everything was fine and lovely.

After about an hour, he came out of sleep again and tried sitting up. I went and got the nurse who had introduced us; and what she did still resonates with me. Instead of telling him he can’t get up and that he needs to go back to sleep, she came in and put her arms around him and said, “Where are you off to?” She waited, knowing he wouldn’t respond. Then, the anxiousness he had felt disappeared. Her hug made him feel safe again, and I could see how grateful he was that she had pulled him out of his confusion. He laid back down and said he was sorry. She responded by exclaiming, “Don’t be sorry! You’re not feeling good. It’s terrible not feeling good for so many days.” She rubbed his back and held his hand, and honestly gave him as much love as a mother would. He was so grateful for the compassion, he kissed her hand and drifted off to sleep once more.

That nurse showed me how important love is. Showing honest love to the people around you not only helps them, but it also helps you and everyone around who sees the example you set. Today, I was one of the lucky witnesses.

Journal Entry 10

As I near the end of this reflection book, it makes me sad thinking that I will soon be off to college and far from the place that taught me so much about the world around me and myself. However, I feel empowered to know that other HB girls have the same opportunity to learn what I have. I began volunteering at HB without knowing much of anything, and I fell in love with it. I’m hoping that these reflections can give a taste to other HB girls of the amazing experience I’ve had at Hospice, so that maybe they’ll be encouraged to try it for themselves. Being a teen volunteer is especially powerful. As a teen volunteer, you offer a unique type of sunshine to people in need of care and love. You are more than just a kid, and more than just a smile; you represent the hope in the world, and the endless sea of “what could be.” This is indispensable quality in the world, and is a gift you can offer through volunteer work.

I realized through volunteering at Hospice that my work not only benefitted people, but my presence did too. Being HB girls, we represent the possibility that arises when power and passion meet. This is evident in our presence, and makes people hopeful of how the world will turn when they’re gone. I cannot accurately express how wonderful a gift any HB girl could give simply by giving their time. By giving mine, I not only got to care and connect with people who needed it, but I was able to find my authentic self, and I will be forever grateful for that.