She is failing; it is evident even without my years of hospice experience I can see her life force has waned. She smiles when she recognizes me, I have not seen her in weeks, she has changed and so have I. I do what I am sent to do, take her vitals, assess her condition, make sure she has all her medications and then I settle onto the carpeted floor crossed legged so I can see her at eye level and I take her hand. We are silent for a moment; the gentle connection of warm hands is enough.
Then I ask her, “When is your birthday?” silently wondering if she will see her 104th year.
She replies with hope lacing her voice, “I will be 104 on February 2!”
I smile at her; in my mind I know this more than likely will not happen. Instead I say, “Ah, so you are a ground hog baby, like my son!”
There is a little twinkle in her eye, “Yes!”
I realize in that moment that every year that I celebrate my son’s birthday the memory of her will come forward, “Then I will never forget you, Maria!”
She looks deeply into my eyes and whispers, “Thank you.”
It is a sacred moment, a gift for both of us. This is why I love this work.