Bev has been with us for six years. Her dry sense of humor, her intolerance of ass hoolery, and her distaste for the annoying demented ones are all things that endeared her to me.
Loving her doesn't make her dying that much more difficult. I come into the relationship knowing it bears an expiration date. I know that when the time comes, we will use everything in our power to make the transition a peaceful one.
It hasn't been peaceful. An hour I sat with her as she squished my hand;
"I'm scared I'm scared I'm scared."
Pain is easier to tend to than fear. And providing a hand to mangle is sometimes our only tool.
A relief to get to work and learn that she'd become unresponsive. Her daughter and granddaughter also relieved.
Our arsenal of drugs will keep her that way until she's gone.
Hospice volunteers keeping vigil at her side to alert us to any signs of waking.
Down the hall, a not as expected ending had begun.
Paul wasn't aware that a few weeks ago he'd been given around a month. His family chose not to tell him; he still thought he'd be going home one day. He'd thought that for the entire year he's been with us.
A more eccentric old bastard I'm not sure I've ever met. A WWII vet; he'd been a medic and would treat any willing listener to the most gruesome tales.
Also an artist, painter, guitarist, fiddler; he'd been known to greet the day playing his flute.
Having a chat with an aide one minute, and unresponsive the next.
His room crowded with family within the hour. His 93 years celebrated, stories told, laughter and tears.
Bev still deep under. Quietly waiting.
Paul began to wake. Answering with blinks, then yes and no, then, amazingly, putting sentences together.
Clearly not the Paul we'd known, but able to deny pain, and to wonder why his family was all there.
My shift winding down, I made a final check on Bev; still peaceful. Mission accomplished for the night.
A hug and a kiss, for me more than for her.
Paul's family gone, I went to say goodbye, knowing the chances he'd last the night were slim;
"Hey Paulie, how are you feeling?"
"I'm great. Did you see my family? Aren't they wonderful?"
"They sure are."
"Yes. They are. So. I'm just waiting. Waiting for the going home."
"Aren't we all, Paulie?"
"Good B- Good night Paulie."
"Good night. You are a kind hearted witch."
"Ha!! That's the best thing I've ever been called! See you tomorrow Paulie."
"See you tomorrow love."