"What you leave behind is not what is engraved into stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others" ~ Pericles
"Am I going to live?", she asked me as I stood next to her bed, patting her brow with a damp cloth. It was the question I had no immediate answer for. How could I give her my honest opinion while she lay there, helpless and weak, looking at me while searching my face for a just a hint of hope? I didn't have the heart to tell her that she will probably never return home, that she is near the end of life's journey. I carefully searched my mind for the right words to say... yet I drew a blank. It was an awkward moment.
I feel more sentimental about this patient. She was my Mother's best friend for over twenty years. Mom loved her dearly. The two of them had been there for each other through their joys and struggles. They traveled together, cooked together, had coffee together. For several years before Mom passed away, this best friend lived just two doors down. They sort of looked out for each other and kept one another company through the lonely hours of boredom. As a matter of fact, Mom had prepared dinner for herself and her friend the Sunday before she passed away. Mom enjoyed having the presence of company for Sunday dinner... she was always like that.
As I stood next to this "special" patient, memories flooded my mind- mental images of loud laughter as she and Mom chatted together and told funny stories or wisecracks, of gatherings onSundays where we all stuffed ourselves then sat around and gossiped, of the sadness seen on this woman's face when she was going through some rather difficult struggles in her life. I felt a sadness weigh heavily on my heart as I watched her drift in and out of consciousness. She is like a "link", a connection, to the memories of my dear Mother- and I see her painfully fading away.
I wrestled with fighting back tears as I softly patted her damp face with a sponge. I whispered to her, thanking her for being part of my Mom's life, for being a trusted friend to her through thick and thin. She nodded slightly and hoarsely whispered, "I loved your Mom like a sister, she was my best friend." She then drifted back off to sleep. I stood there for just a little while, watching her breathe, wondering if I would see her again. Before leaving, I bent over her, leaning in to her face to place a kiss upon her cheek. She opened her eyes briefly, for a fleeting moment. I turned and walked away, confronted by thoughts of finality. Praying in a silent whisper...may peace follow, dear friend.
A memory from my personal journal originally written Sunday, October 04, 2009
Note: This dear friend was Carol Passmore. She lived a little while longer, and passed from this life the following year, in 2010. I will always remember her kindness and friendship.