Death comes without an appointment.
My newest client turned out to also be my shortest assignment. I'll call her Ilene.
In her earlier life, she rode motorcycles all over the US. She was an independent, controlling, headstrong woman who knew what she wanted. She refused to take an airplane, as that relinquished control. She was driving cross-country in a truck pulling a camper just a few years ago.
She died Thursday morning. I wasn't ready. Obviously; it wasn't about me.
I'd been called in to assist the Hospice staff and do daily checks on her, morning and night. She didn't "need" a care giver, and she was conscious that this was costing her money. She hurried me, all the time.
And then it was Wednesday. We had a great morning, and she was happy. I got the bed changed, her changed, and all of her special things aligned just right. "What can I bring you today?" I asked her.
"If you're going into town (we live in a remote little country community) I would love a mocha frappe."
"You got it!"
I dropped that off at about 3pm. She's stone deaf, and to communicate with her, you speak into a microphone as she listens on a headset. She was very happy with the mocha.
Back at 8pm for bedtime routine. "I don't feel very good". I tried to narrow that down, but got nowhere.
"I brought you egg salad. Made from fresh eggs from my neighbor's chickens."
She ate an entire HUGE sandwich.
In her gravelly voice she said "You did gooooooooooooooood. REAL goooood."
I put mustard and sweet pickle relish in there. She picked up on, and loved that. I made her a fresh cup of coffee, and in her little treat box I had placed a square of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Her eyes lit up. She was so happy.
"You haven't seen pictures of my motorcycle" she cheerfully said. She wasn't concerned about the time, and that was so strange. We sat and looked at photos and she told stories. And then, suddenly, she said "Oh! You should get headed home!" I did - and assured her I would pop in at 10PM to make sure she was okay. (I live down the street)
10pm; get the fan situated, and she's A-ok. Cheerful. Bids me goodnight, and waves with a big smile.
The call came at 11:11 am.
I ran all the way to her house.
I wanted her to have slipped into unconsciousness, and we could revive her, but she was gone.
They had left her sort of hanging off the bed, halfway on her knees, butt in the air. Someone had removed her Depends. Why??? This was undignified. Horrible.
I wrapped her in a thick sheet and asked for help getting her into a comfortable position on the floor.
I won't tell the rest of the story, but it was nothing like I had ever done before.
Goodbye, my new friend. I wish i'd known you before.