The human body has an amazing ability to overcome obstacles we wouldn’t think they could; especially at the end of life.  In my years as a nurse I have watched patient’s hold on far past what we thought possible, waiting for that family member to arrive,  or an anniversary date to pass, that one vital piece of their puzzle that they needed to finally rest in peace.  I’ve watched patient’s heavily medicated due to pain and suffering suddenly be lucid, needing to say some final words.  I’ve watched patient’s chose their ending even when it seemed their power was gone long ago and they were only along for the ride.  

She showed me once – the power that people have to dictate their own endings.  I believe she made choices, I believed back then and I believe it today; t she truly did come home to us to pass.  Not all the stories are as beautiful, and yet there’s a certain bittersweet taste to this one.  Now I wonder, could we have taken her home, could she have passed with her family at her bedside, could we have given her so much more in those last months.   It strengthens my resolve to help people change the face of dying, to give back dignity and every moment of life possible to be lived before slipping away.
I wrote this piece in 2005 – after losing a patient who I had become very close to.  It is for her and every other patient who has ever allowed me the priviledge of being part of their journey that I do this, that I believe so strongly in the need to change our culture and our views of death.

Two legs

New Wings
Fly away home beautiful lady
Endless mornings with sunshine through your window
Rest well beautiful, forever in my heart

She was beautiful, she was wise, she was sweet, she was scared. I held her hand, she held mine. Day after day we fought together what she faced. When it was dialysis and soft blood pressures and endartectomies we learned together about the procedures and the medications and we taught her family. We chewed sugarless gum and we gritted our teeth together and i told her it was okay to scream when we changed the bandages. When she had to face the amputation we made secret jokes to make it easier, and we sang and we decorated her room and we spent the evening before we her grandchildren. She’d close her eyes in stubbornness and i’d have to walk in and insist it was me, and pry her eyes open to look at me until she’d listen and cooperate sometimes. She was stubborn, she was scared, but she had a right to be. And oh how she was beautiful, in so many ways. Many would have seen that place as her jail, but to her it was her home. When we sent her to a rehab facility she fought and fought and they sent her home to us within 24 hours. i thought she was safe with us, though i was somewhat sad, i had planned to go visit her since the facility was right around the corner from home and i had a nice stretch of time off. But she came home to die….i didn’t expect it, not this, not yet…not now. There was too much fight left in her. Beautiful lady, you always had a trick up your sleeve, you were determined you were going home for Christmas, you were going to watch your grandbabies open their gifts. Merry Christmas Beautiful….Merry Christmas.
They tell you not to get too close.

Let me never stop getting a little bit too close.
They tell you to get hard.
Let me never get that hard.
They tell you to stop crying.
Please let me always cry.
They say it gets easier.
No, if it gets easier i lose humanity, the day i lose this humanity is the day i quit.