Recently I had the honor of watching my dearest friend pass away.
I realize that most would not consider this an honor but rather morbid and awful. Yet, as often as I have re-played her last words, last breath, and last moments in my mind, I am grateful that I was lucky enough to be with her during those moments. I don’t think I could accept her death had I not been a witness.
You see, she had been ill for some time, one day short of a month to be exact, but was on the upswing. She was going to be released from the hospital in a few days, either into a rehab center or home (where I would stay with her), having home healthcare coming in for rehabilitation. We had spent most of the day discussing plans for her release from “captivity”, right down to the first meal she wanted when she came home. This might not sound so exciting from a reading standpoint, but just three weeks prior she had been in a coma, and two weeks prior she still could not breathe on her own, so sitting here talking about getting out was a huge deal.
For myself, I was exhausted. I had spent everyday for the last 29 days going between work and the hospital. This day was a good day filled with good news and I expected to finally be able to sleep the entire night through. I was wrong. Ruth’s heart unexpectedly failed that evening, just as I was preparing to leave for the night. She had made it quite clear that she did not want to be put back on life support should it come to that again. So here, in front of me I witnessed a DNR request honored as my dearest friend’s heart stopped for the fourth time in a less than a month. This time the line on the monitor did not go back up, this time it stayed flat. This time the “crash cart” left the room as the team called time of death. This time was the last time.
I sat on the cold floor of the hospital hallway. Ruth’s favorite nurse came and gave me a hug (his shift was just ending when she coded and he ran into her room), he asked how I was, I said “pissed right the fuck off” and he told me that was o.k., and then I cried, he hugged me harder and asked if there was anything he could do, “no, not anymore, thank you”. So many others came and hugged me and asked me the same. Then the hospital clergy came over and talked with me “here are parking passes, how many will you need? How many will be coming?”, holy shit I thought, I need to call people and tell them!!!
I felt bad and sad for those people who I had to notify. My grief quickly pushed aside as I took to the business at hand and I became the consoler and comforter. This is when I truly realized what an honor it was for me to be a witness to her passing. I got the last moments with her, I have the very last memory of her, it is mine, and I am so blessed and honored to carry that gift.
**Ruth passed away Sept 26, 2015. She was my closest & dearest friend. I am still struggling with her death on many levels, and intend to miss her every day. My writing here on WP has taken a blow during her illness, hospital stay and untimely passing, I have lost my spark and social flair, I don’t know if either of those will ever recover, but I hope so as I miss you all so much.