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Embrace the 2020 Journey

We've heard it often. Many times, from our very own lips.

“2020 has been the worst year ever.” “It has ruined our summer,” “messed up our holidays,” and “I can’t wait till this year is over.”

I concur, it has left a bit of emptiness in our souls. I understand the sentiment. 2020 has caused its share of overwhelming pain and loss.

But personally, it has also opened my eyes to the many blessings as well. Like many, I will never forget 2020.

Every year for the past few years, my 10-year-old son Anthony has joined me, along with about 30-40 of my amazing Hospice of the Calumet Area co-workers and volunteers, to sing holiday classics to our patients and families at our William J. Riley Memorial Residence. Last year, nearly our entire Schererville Shock 9U baseball team and their parents and siblings joined us. Needless to say, for safety measures, we weren’t able to do that this year.

I needed that Holiday magic this year more than ever, and I thought it wasn’t going to happen. But I was surely mistaken.

Just days before Christmas, one of our wonderful HCA RNs Kristine Espitia asked me to join her and her beautiful son Charlie in delivering a meal to a patient in need. I quickly obliged and Anthony joined me on that beautiful and memorable Saturday morning.

Our patient Neal and his wonderful wife Violet opened their doors and their hearts to us four and it was a visit we will never forget. It was just supposed to be minutes but quickly turned into an hour visit as we shared jokes, stories, and even some treats. Neal couldn’t contain his smile and continually thanked us throughout the visit.

“You are all so wonderful,” said Neal. “I can’t believe how kind you people are and Violet and I are so grateful that you came today.”

There was a lump in all of our throats when Neal asked if we can conclude the visit with a prayer. There was not a dry eye in his home as he led us in an inspiringly comforting prayer.

The funny thing is, we thought we were doing a kind act for Neal and Violet, but in essence, they were the ones that touched our souls with their peace and love.

That night, when it was time for our prayers, I asked my children who they wanted to pray for and Anthony enthusiastically said, “I want to pray for Neal and Violet so that everyone can be as nice as them.”

It was at that very moment, I realized that Holiday magic was alive and well.

Damian Rico is the director of marketing and community relations for Hospice of the Calumet Area. The opinions are the writer's.

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