Deb’s House Concerts
On the Last Day
I was in her town for parts of four days. I called her the third day, twice, but no one answered or returned my calls. On the fourth day, I made phone calls until I found someone who told me she was in the hospital. I stopped by to see her, soon after that call, on my way out of town.
Close to the End
I did not recognize her from the door, and I asked the nurse to be sure I was entering the right room. She was alone. Her face was covered with an oxygen mask. Her eyes were closed. She looked so different from the last time I saw her when she was smiling and gracious in her home.
Can’t They DO Something?
She appeared to be sleeping. I could hear her breathing from where I stood, but she did not seem to be in any distress. I felt distressed looking at her. Can’t someone DO something to HELP her? She’s going to DIE! I set my coat on the chair, and took her hand in mine. I thought her eyes opened slightly, but she did not move or speak. I let go of her hand and she raised it up and moved it around, so I held it again, and it felt like she was holding my hand.
They Were In and Out
Her caretakers were in and out of the room. They did what health care workers do: dressing changes, vital signs, breathing treatments, exercising limbs, helping her sit up for a few minutes. The only thing she said was, “I’m so tired.” It was hard to hear her behind the mask. The people came in, one after another, sometimes two at a time. Her eyes stayed closed, but she stated her name and birthdate when they asked.
They Finally Left
When they finished all that had to be done, they indicated that I was free to visit. I moved the straight-backed chair to the other side of the bed, and sat down beside her, so I could talked to her. It was the first time I had talked to her since I’d arrived. There had been so much commotion. When they’d asked who I was, I’d said, “I’m a friend.” I still did not know if she’d opened her eyes enough to see me, or if she knew it was me. But, she’d responded “appropriately” when they’d asked her questions, so I knew she was awake and alert.
My Last Words
I felt so sad. I knew, believed, that she did not have long to live. I told her who I was, in case she’d not seen me and recognized me. I told her, “I finished my (school) program a week ago today. I’ve been visiting (a friend). I just found out where you were today, and I wanted to see you.” I also told her, “I brought you some M&Ms, but you don’t seem like you feel good enough to eat them.” I believed I heard a ‘no’. I also believed I heard a ‘no’ when I asked if she was hurting.
I Love You
I told her, “I want you to know I love you.” I told her I had to leave, but I would return. She said, “tomorrow?” I said, “No. I have to go home today. Will you be here next week? I will try to come back to see you next week.” She tried to answer. She said things I could not understand.
Close to My Heart
I felt so sad. I did not believe she would be there in a week. I felt like I should not leave, but my time was up. I knew if she was still alive in a week, I would come and sit with her and hold her hand. She seemed to want the company. I did not want her to die alone. I was crying. “I will always hold you close to my heart.” I was thinking, “I have to go, but I do not want you to feel alone. I don’t know if you will die before I return. What if I never see you again? I want you to know what you mean to me.” I said, “I will always hold you close to my heart.”
She Touched My Life
She was someone who touched my life when I was very young. She was a favorite adult for all my life, even though I never found her again to know her again until a year ago, over forty years later. Of course neither of us looked the same. We took a picture together. She said, “I look so old.” I thought, “Me, too.” She was a young adult when I was a young child, and something in the way she treated me stayed with me for my entire life. Something about her was so special that I carried the memory of her in my heart for my entire life.
Because of You
Here she was, in a hospital bed, too tired to have her eyes open, too tired to move, too tired to live. I have worked with many people who were dying. I think I know dying when I see it. I was so sad thinking the treatments would not bring her back this time. I was crying. I said, “The world is a better place because of you.” She responded. She said something like, “That’s something that’s good to hear.” I wanted her to know. I had told her before, but I wanted her to know it again before she died. She touched my life when I was very young. She made a lasting impression. I wish I could have known her all my life, but things don’t always work out the way we might imagine. I was so grateful to have found her again in the past year.
Her Last Words
She said things to me, but I don’t know what she said. I could not understand the words from behind the oxygen mask. The only things I understood that she said to me were, “Tomorrow?” when I said I had to leave, but I would be back, and her response when I said the world is better because of her. I have no idea what else she said to me.
Plans to Return
I had hoped that she would respond to treatments, and get better. But, I was afraid it was too late for anything else to help. I made plans to go back this week for three days to sit with her, but I looked at the obituaries every day for the news I did not want to find.
My Mother Told Me
I visited my parents in the late evening, and my mother said, “I have some sad news. (She) died.” I told my mom about our last visit, and we both cried. I said, “I should have stayed. I should have stayed one more day.” If I had realized she really was in her last hours, I probably would have changed my travel plans to stay with her as long as she wanted. I am so grateful that I was able to spend some time with her on her last full day on earth. I am so grateful that I was able to say goodbye in a way that let her know I loved her and would miss her, but will remember her always.
Our Loss Is Her Gain
I wish I had known her all the years in between my childhood when she touched my life and her last year when we met again. I only knew her for parts of two years of my life. I imagine that those who knew her and loved her for many years were blessed exponentially by how wonderful she was. My friend in that town only met her once, but she made such an impression that she is mourning her loss, too.
Don’t Ever Underestimate the Value of Your Love
Don’t ever underestimate the value of your love: your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your gentleness, your smile, your laughter, your words of encouragement, your support, your shoulder to cry on, your inspiration … all the good that you do. Don’t ever imagine that your life has no purpose. If you have ever been kind to a child, you have done a good thing in this world. If you have spent your life living in a loving way, you have added much value to this world. If you give a child a reason to believe in herself, or himself, you have done a wonderful thing. Don’t ever underestimate the value of your love.
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