Rebecca Turley is a hospice nurse in Northwestern Ohio with a passion for her vocation. Hospice nursing is no ordinary job. The day to day involves caring for those who face life-limiting illnesses. Hospice nurses witness death on a near-daily basis. On one such day, Rebecca felt compelled to share a message about life. She pulled over on the side of the road and turned on her phone’s camera.
“I was driving home, listening to my Christian music, after 13 hours of running around and taking care of symptomatic patients and their families,” she said in her video. “And it just hit me. I felt compelled to pull over and share this message, even if it only helps one person.”
“Life is so, so short.”
Rebecca Turley explained the her closeness with death. She described her job, and the moments she witnesses when her patients near the end. “I get to witness some of the most beautiful moments in life, which are around the time of death,” she explained.
As she turned the conversation toward what event in particular inspired her to create the video, a rush of emotion overcame her. She paused for moment to collect her thoughts. From the look in her eyes, it was obvious she felt deep emotion about the death she had witnessed during her shift.
“When you work with death and people that are dying, you kind of become immune to it. But there’s always those few patients that really, really get you. I was with a man this morning, and his family, as he took his last breaths. And it’s really, really a magical moment.”
This magical moment turned into an epiphany. Rebecca changed course in her video and honed in one the message she felt she needed to share. She first framed her thoughts around her experiences as a hospice nurse.
“I have taken care of pediatric patients. I have taken care of patients who went in for routine outpatient surgeries who woke up and the doctor said ‘you have a week to live, you should call hospice.’”
Her thoughts highlight the frailty of life. They bring to light what we all know deep down but sometimes need reminding. Life is uncertain. It can quickly turn against us, and death lurks as a constant specter over all of us. Rebecca Turley wanted to remind us that life is short. She sees it every day, and she knows from watching her patients that we are never prepared enough for that inevitable moment.
“It’s hard for me to see that man lying there, taking his last breaths, and wondering if there was something he could have done differently,” she said.
What’s Rebecca Turley’s advice to us all? She wants us to remember that life is short, that we should take stock of what’s most important, and we should never lose sight of what’s coming. Essentially, she wants us not to take life for granted.
“If you have a family member who you’ve been fighting with, if you’re unhappy in your job, life is so, so short, you should live life to the fullest. Maintain good relationships. Don’t stress about little things because life is too short.