97: Reaching Out

97: Reaching Out

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Reaching Out

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

~Carl W. Buehner

I started volunteering for hospice because I wanted to give back. When my dad was sick, hospice helped him and my family through it. Nearly ten years after he passed away, living in a new city, I found myself searching for something to feed my soul. The local hospice residence was only five blocks from where I worked, so I signed up as a volunteer. A couple of times a week, I’d leave the office at the end of the day and head over there, never knowing what to expect from my visits with the dying patients. Talking with a dying person has always come easy to me, and it’s an honor to be a part of something so sacred.

Making my rounds, I’d stop into six or eight rooms per shift. If the patients felt like talking, I’d pull up a chair and chat a while. If they needed help with a meal, adjusting their bed, or making it to the bathroom, I’d do what I could for them. And if they wanted to just sit in the quiet, I did that, too. Some people aren’t comfortable in the quiet, but I spent many evenings simply “being there” for several hospice patients. Sometimes, there’s no need to talk. Sometimes, there are no words.

In high school, I cared for several children as a way to earn spending money. I grew really attached to Kimberly, a ten-year-old with muscular dystrophy, who had to have several surgeries and was often wheelchair bound. And, in recent years, I’ve helped raise a boy who has Down syndrome and is autistic. He’s non-verbal, but he has no problem communicating. He has his own language.

I’ve always felt comfortable providing care for others, and I enjoy it. And that’s why I came to a crossroads in my life. I was wondering if I should pursue a new job working in suicide prevention training. It would pay much less than my current office manager position, but I would be doing worthwhile work. And I was wondering if I should continue my hospice work, because I found myself spending more and more time there.

I’d been praying for a sign for weeks, looking for guidance for the next step in my life. And then one Saturday morning, I awoke from a dream about my dad.

He was lying on the couch where I’d seen him so many times during his illness. His hand was outstretched, reaching for me. As I drew closer, he said, “I want you to continue to reach out . . .”

I tried to pull myself together after that emotional dream. That day, I was scheduled to go to the home of a weekend client, Patricia, to work on some financial reports. Working with numbers would be a welcome distraction.

Knowing that Patricia is an empath and highly sensitive to others, I purposely avoided her when I got there. I knew she would feel my sadness. So I spoke to her briefly, and then headed straight into the office. The desk faced the corner of the far end of the room. When she stood in the doorway to tell me she had to go shower and then to a meeting, I was relieved. I wasn’t in the mood to make small talk. Never turning around to face her, I simply said, “Okay.”

I tried to get lost in my work, but in what seemed like only moments later, she was in the doorway again. Still facing the computer, I was confused when she said, “I think I got a message for you last night.”

I couldn’t imagine who would call her house, looking for me. Without turning around, I simply asked, “What?”

She came into the office and sat in the other chair. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that her hair was wet. She apparently had taken her shower and come right back downstairs. She said, “I got a message for you, and I think it was your dad.”

Instantly, I turned around, and facing her, again I asked, “What?”

She explained that as she was lying in bed the night before, she sensed a male energy in the room, and she knew that it was attached to me somehow.

My head was spinning as I tried to wrap my mind around what she was saying.

She explained further. “I sensed that it was your dad, and he wanted me to give you a message. He said that you are to continue to reach out.”

I was stunned. Her words took my breath away. Tears filled my eyes at the thought that my daddy could reach out to me through others, and that the message was identical to what he’d told me in my dream that very morning. The answer to my questions about my life and career came through loud and clear, from my dad, twice in the same day!

~Sunny Stephens

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