Sissy’s Aunt

“They brought me home to die”, she tells me as her caregiver leads me into her room. She was propped up like a queen in her bed, surrounded by silky soft pillows and blankets. She looked directly into my eyes and soul, she reached for my hand and said “ you and I were destined  for this day”…and I knew this too.

My sweet new friend was visibly struggling for breath, she was wearing oxygen in her nose, as I leaned in to talk I could hear it coming out of the tiny nose piece. This told me it was turned up higher than normal for this particular piece of equipment. I placed an oximeter on her finger to measure the saturation of oxygen saturated in her blood. She was restless, fidgety, telling me that all this was not necessary, she didn’t need any of these things on her. I nodded, took off the oximeter and asked her what she would like.

She closed her eyes and leaned back into her cloud of pillows with a sigh and a smile. “That, just what you said, I want someone to ask me what I want”….

I visited her weekly, some weeks several times. The doctors had told her family she had “days” to live, though she slowly grew stronger. She did not dwell on the changes her body was going through and the losses she was experiencing. Everyday experiences that we all seem to take for granted, going to lunch with friends, having her hair done weekly, walking to her best friends apartment in the building they lived in on the river. She was a “socialite’ in her time, had been married to a prominent lawyer. She carried herself with grace and humor, to know her was to love her.

We talked often and about many varied subjects, she was kind and caring and loved life. What she wanted was what we did in my care for her, she was on Hospice and knew she would die one day, whenever that may be. She understood that. But life was what she was still doing and wanted to do! Her spirit served her well. I encouraged her to do what it was she wanted to do, was used to doing, to continue living..She appreciated this and our kindered souls aligned. My days with her were the highlight of my week, she had stories, as do I and we traded them, laughing and remembering our younger days. We both decided that we had been together in another life as our friendship was so genuine and true.

I helped her to accept her slowing down and the differences in her life by balancing what we could do to help her be comfortable. She called the shots, she decided yes or no to what was to happen. Her family and friends were present and loving, dedicated to this beautiful, smiling woman. She touched many during her life and a huge void was evidently going to be there when she left.

I fear this story is more about what she did for me than I her. My sweet friend, when she looked into my eyes that first day changed, shifted something deep within me. I carry that with me now and I am ever grateful for her.