Complexity in All it's Glory
Humor is everything. It makes the most difficult situations bearable. It offers breath and release. It allows us to keep going.
If I receive a text in the middle of my day or the end when I’m exhausted and a bit scared or overwhelmed; nothing brings me back to center and clarity more immediately than something funny a friend is sharing.
I am working with a 95-year client right now. He is remarkable. He’s incredibly sharp and has a razor fast wit.
My job is to help him clean out his home. He is preparing to move to assisted living where his wife is in hospice.
As we sort through his enormous library (each one evoking relationships and years of his life in connection with others) the stories unfold in his mind. He wants to share it all with me and I have to keep him focused: Store, Donate, Take with.
He is everything one is at this stage of the game: resigned, aware, scared, confused at times, and clear at others. He is all this and so very much more.
He told me yesterday when I arrived that his last friend has severe dementia; the last peer he could talk to about everything. He is alive but no longer available in the way that matters most to all of us; someone with whom we connect with whom we share history, perhaps the same viewpoints; a deep understanding of shared and individual histories.
My job is sacred. I am aware of all of this as I work and think about every aspect of the project as we move along. I tick off the boxes in my mind:
Continue to update family on progress
Manage the paper work; omg the paper work.
Right timing to bring others in for the big pack
Plot, plan, plot, plan
I am stepping into a family; all the dynamics, history and current level of challenge they all face. Their busy lives.
An entire life to consider. Old papers, his wife’s art, plaques, clothes upon clothes, beautiful untouched shoes and hats. He LOVED Filene’s Basement and has most of it in his house.
He says to me: “I was supposed to be dead when this was happening. My kids were supposed to do this.” And I say, “You could die tomorrow B.” And he says, “yes!” And we both say: “and then they’d just throw it all out.” And we laugh and there is a release from the heaviness.
He snaps at me when I tell him his daughter doesn’t want a particular display cabinet he thought that she did. He immediately realizes he’s snapped and apologizes. He says, “I’m sorry I don’t like to operate like that.”
He calls me on the verge of tears to say that he feels terrible but he has to change our schedule to the afternoons or he will not be able to see his wife. He is distraught.
The enormity of the responsibility seizes me in a flash. The honor of it; the depth of it stuns me.
I assure him that we can change the schedule. I remember why I love what I do. There is so much to it.
The person I am working with is bearing their soul to me really. We become close almost instantaneously. They are immediately allowing me into the most private part of themselves and asking for support; opening themselves up to a stranger. I feel honored by each one.
I adore the immediacy of the work. It requires pure focus and presence. It requires responding and adjusting as emotions rise and fall and twist and turn.
It’s not always clear how a project is going to get to the finish line. What I know though is that I have that end in sight, even if far from obvious or simple. Each job and each client is unique. Each offers me the opportunity to lift a weight, to find the humor, to connect and to accomplish something that offers sustaining relief, joy and comfort. This is magical.