Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Saying Farewell to Another Beautiful Soul

This week has been surprisingly good despite what has happened. I finally went back to work again and it seems everything went haywire while I was gone. Staff members retired and I missed a farewell party, one of my patients was on palliative ward and died on Sunday. I went upstairs to the exact room where she was for another patient of mine that has decided to stop treatment. It is rare for my patients to die, compared with palliative or ICU, I mean. My patients are geriatric or kidney patients. In a sense, they are dying, due to aging or a chronic ilness such as kidney failure, but they are not usually actively dying.

It is days like yesterday that I just hate my job. I have known these women for 2 years or more. Since I first came here to Vancouver. In fact, this woman I saw today, is the first patient I ever met when I started my job here at the hospital. The thing is .. I am not medical, so I can't give them pain meds, and I can't help them with their treatment other than to listen to them. J's decision to stop her dialysis was a shock for most staff, other than me. I have been hearing her struggle with pain since I met her. She is a determined lady and very at peace with her world. I asked her if she had any regrets in life. She answered "my one regret is that I never got to take that skydiving class I signed up for before my mom got sick." For a woman in her 70's, if that is all that she regrets in her life, I think she is doing pretty good.

I realized today what is so hard about this experience. I feel like I am just getting to know her even though I have talked to J almost once a week for the past 3 years. And now I have to walk her out of this world. This is indeed a priviledge and also great heartache for me. I am sure I am not alone when I say that we are loosing a great soul when she finally dies. I have been truly blessed to know her.

What is it about death that makes those of us who are living to re-evaluate our priorities, and to consider what we want from our lives. When it comes down to it, life is precious and we spend a lot of it wasting our time and money on frivolous things. In the end, I hope that I will satisfied with the living of my life and regret very little as J does.

**Note** True to her word, J died the next day, peacefully in her sleep. She lived her life with no nonsense, and died as she wanted. The picture was taken the day before she died. I'm so glad I took it that day. What a way to go. I'll miss you.

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