Yesterday was 4th of July. For me it is “stay at home with your dog to comfort her during the strange booming day”. I was in the kitchen when my phone half rang. I figured someone hung up mid call and if it were important, they’d call me back. Three minutes later one of my favorite home health aides called me. “Did you just call me?” she asked, explaining that her phone had also registered a half ring and my name popped up.
“Ah, no. Where are you?”
“I am so sorry, I know you aren’t working, but Mrs. O is not doing well. I’ve already called for the oncall nurse!”
“Give her my love,” I said knowing what was coming.
I got a texted from her primary nurse a few hours later to let me know Mrs. O had passed. I had been covering this patient for her while she was away. I went to respond and distinctly felt an arm around my shoulders, no one was there- in physical form at least.
Mrs. O was one of those people you just instantly liked. She was salty and stubborn, but it was all show. Beneath she was the sweetest most genuine person. She said what she meant and meant what she said. One of the last times I was there I showed her a picture of two baby deer that had been grazing across the street from her, she was delighted to know and thanked me profusely for sharing this, as her tiny room had become her only world.
I knew she was dying; she knew she was dying but she was fighting to stay, and I didn’t want to intrude on her battle. Dying is a very personal journey and people often with chronic illness die the way they lived. She was going to go down clinging to a life raft singing pirate songs! She was salty and strong and ever so sweet beneath the surface.
She has left her mark on my heart, as so many do but she will always surface in my memory as she died on the 4th of July. Next summer and every summer to come I will smile and remember her if only for a fleeting moment.