The Actual Dance is the metaphor for the ritual of facing the prospect of being with the one you love most in the world as they take their last breath. In the play, The Actual Dance, I focus on what I consider the “unique” point of view of the show –the person in a love relationship with someone who is facing a life-threatening diagnosis. I have come to call that person the LovePartner. These are typically family members whose care is not for pay. Rather, from the heart.
Today though, in anticipation of Labor Day, I want to focus on the other “players” in end-of-life rituals, many of whom were probably hard at work today, a National Holiday celebrating the economic contributions of workers to America’s strength and well-being.
These workers contribute not just economically. They contribute in so many ways, but especially also from the heart. During the intensity of our journey as a family caregiver to someone we love, it is easy not to see all the people who are there to help. Sometimes the only thing they can do is to make everyone comfortable as the inevitable happens while always trying for the best.
Who are these people? They are those who staff the hospital on holidays. The nurses and administrators and the technicians and the cleaning crews. The Actual Dance as a story has several characters, particularly doctors. It does not mention though the “Seventh Floor Crew”—the nurse’s station on the “cancer floor” – who rooted for Susan all the way and who made sure I was comfortable when I was staying there in the room. Nor does it mention the cleaning crew or the food workers – each of whom worked to help make Susan better.
Yet these individuals and thousands like them work intimately with patients and families who are struggling. Their work is not only time and skill-demanding, it is also demanding of their heart and soul. My experience as I faced the loss of Susan was supported and embraced by everyone, not just the doctors, who helped at every stage of the process. In the consciousness of today, Labor Day, I am in awe of the special strength it takes to do this kind of “work.”
So today, on Labor Day 2022, I want to recognize, honor, and celebrate all those people at work in hospitals, medical facilities, home health care, and their affiliated businesses all around the country —laboring – to make people – patients and their families -- better.
Thank you—Thank you – Thank You