Spring has been postponed for some of us this week. Yet another snowstorm challenged plans and inconvenienced life as we desire it. Shovel, salt and sunshine my ultimate weapons. I don’t dislike the snow, its just that my heart and mind have moved forward to thoughts of gardens full of daffodils, lavender, foxglove and trees full of cherry blossoms.
This was also a week of saying goodbye to a favorite patient. In her last weeks of life she was alert and spent time between the two worlds. She described to me a beautiful garden in her bedroom doorway. “Its absolutely lovely,” she reported, “The flowers are just so stunning, and the greens….”. I could see nothing, just the doorway into the living room. She was quite sure she would be visiting the garden soon, “It’s waiting for me….” She would then come back to our reality where life was ebbing away, bedbound, incontinent and weak. “This is no way to live…” She would then start a conversation with someone who she clearly saw as I stared at a blank wall. “Can we talk later, the nurse is here,” she would cut them off. This made me smile that somehow my presence was still important to her. She had been in command of her entire dying process, it was so very important she had control over something so uncontrollable as dying. I let her tell me when she could no longer get up, when she wanted the hospital bed ordered, when she was ready for diapers. She called the shots up until she couldn’t. I saw her daily, until the storm moved in and her caregiver said, “No, don’t come today, we’re fine. It’s too dangerous.” She died soon after, before Spring returned, when snow blanketed our world. But I knew, where she was going, Spring is eternal, she walked from our snow-covered world into her lovely garden all in bloom.