Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hospitals, Friends, Family and Death

D, the dying friend I’ve written about, was taken back to the hospital Friday and was moved to the Intensive Care Unit today. This afternoon we were told there is nothing more they can do for her, other than to make her comfortable. The ‘we’ I refer to is a collection of her closest four friends and assorted significant others. I am one of the ‘assortment’. She has no living relatives that we know of, so this cast of characters is her family.

During the five hours we spent there, I was impressed by much of what I saw. D was very private, so the friends spent part of the afternoon piecing together various parts of the story about the return of the cancer; no one person in the group knew the whole story. The friends and D’s lawyer, who is also a friend, discussed D’s various wishes and options. One very important thing was to have her favorite dog there at some point and the friends went to great lengths to make that happen. Fortunately the dog is also a registered service dog so the hospital did not object. D was in a semi-coma by this time but it almost seemed like she was waiting to see the dog before dying.

I should point out that I hate hospitals. I respect and admire people who work in them; they have a difficult job. Some hospitals are insensitive, assembly line healing factories. Fortunately this one is not. The staff was friendly and compassionate and the main doctor in this situation spent 30 minutes discussing the whole scenario with us. He was sensitive yet realistic and never once did he seem rushed.

A little while later I found myself in D’s room with only one other person, a scene I had tried to avoid. As I watched D in her semi-coma state, with her eyes closed and labored breathing, I emotionally flashed back ten years to the day my Dad died. Even though my Dad could not speak and seemed to be unaware of his surroundings, it appeared that he had waited for his family to all be together in the room before passing on. These two scenes were strikingly similar.

Most of us left the hospital late afternoon and the key players in this group formed a phone plan to keep everyone updated on developments. As I was beginning to write this post two hours later we received news that D had died.

She spent her last few hours with her favorite dog snuggled next to her and her closest friends telling stories to her and about her. Nobody knows what she could hear or understand but the setting was exactly what she wanted. 

2 comments:

Linda V. said...

I am so sorry to hear that M's friend has passed. No matter how you prepare yourself, its still hard. Tell M that she can take comfort in the fact that she was there, and that D's "family" gave her everything she needed at the end. I know that D knew her friends were there, and that gave her the peace she needed to move on. What a gift you all gave her! You, and M, and D will be in our prayers. Give my best to M.

Bernie said...

Thanks for the kind words and prayers.