“Don’t forget me.”
The plea is quiet and, above all, desperate. The intensity of it tears at me; I’m gasping in the backwash of emotions. This is too much for a young person to handle…any person to handle.
A new admit came in on my group a few days ago. From the very first, it was clear that she was dying: I knew, the nurses knew, her family knew and she knew. I didn’t know this woman, I have no fond memories of her to pull on to ease the ragged edges of comfort care. To me, she’s only and always been dying.
It’s a lot to ask, for an aide and resident (and her family) to become acquainted under Death’s watching eyes. It’s stressful and emotional. Every tick of the second hand on the clock is like the reverbarations of her death knell, projected back in time. It’s a reminder that all this, and her life, is ending.
Every hour, for eight hours a day, five days a week, I go in to check, change and turn her. Lotion her dry skin, fluff her pillows, try to spoon a little thickened liquids in her cracked mouth, bring her family in coffee and snacks.
My resident hardly has strength to lift her head, but she kept trying to give me a hug and squeeze my hands. Her family never leaves her side and always remember my name.
Not to state the obvious, but this is hard. I fell hard and fast this time…didn’t really have time to fiddle-fart around, I guess. Providing end-of-life care for this dying woman is the high-light of my work day and I don’t want it to end. I also don’t want to her keep suffering.
I guess I’m just used to having more moments between the first “Hello” and that last “goodbye”.
“Don’t forgot me.”
THe words are a harsh whisper, the only thing that could squeeze though a throat clogged with a thousand goodbyes for a new friend. I’m crying…just a couple tears rolling down my cheek. I’ve learned to pack a lot of grief into a few teardrops.
“Don’t forgot me.”
She smiles. “Don’t worry, little girl, I could never forget you. Have a good day off.”