When Mooney first met a mentally handicapped 13-year-old patient with congenital kidney issues, doctors said the girl didn’t have long to live. The young patient beat the odds and lived for more than a dozen additional years. Through this Mooney developed a strong bond with both her and her family.
It was then Mooney gave them all a promise. When that inevitable day would come when the girl’s life would near its end, she would be there to care for her.
Many years later, when that young girl was a 28-year-old woman, her mother contacted Mooney. The nurse was given the difficult task of explaining mortality to the mentally challenged young lady. And she agreed to care for her until the end.
“It was very difficult, because normally we don’t take care of people who are that close to us,” Mooney explained, “but I had made a promise [to the girl and her family.]”
The experience proved not only to be a gift to the patient and her family, but also to Mooney herself.
“[The patient] was a bright and shining light. She glowed with the purity of spirit. But I felt I learned so much from her on how to look at the positive side of life, no matter what your issues are. …And I truly believe that she taught me so much about humility, patience, and accepting with joy your limitations and trying to get past them.”
On her attraction to hospice nursing:
“I’ve been a hospice nurse for 16 years, and every time I think I should do something else, my body tells me, ‘No, this is what you’re for.’ I love it. I love the fact that we are honored and privileged to be in a family’s life in a time when they need the most help. We’re there at the time of death to help transition the patient and the family through all of that and to offer all of the support, love and compassion that we could possibly give. It’s a real honor to be able to be at a person’s death. It’s something that I treasure, and I really value.”