Monday, November 26, 2007

Sweet Dreams

Some moments stay with you.

He was old, and sick, and very, very tired. He was ready to die, had been so for days, and had been waiting, sometimes patiently and sometimes less so, for death to come. On this particular afternoon he was restless, not comfortable, and his eyes were roaming around the room. A nurse and I were with him. The nurse went to get pain medicine. His eyes roamed and roamed, not settling, and he was vocalizing, but I couldn't make out anything definite. "It's OK," I said, and touched his head very lightly so he would know where the sound of my voice was coming from. I noticed that his eyes drifted shut with the touch. The nurse gave him his medicine. He seemed chilled, so we tucked his blankets all around him, warm around his shoulders and up under his chin. His eyes roamed. I touched his head again and his eyes drifted closed. I left my hand in place and his eyes stayed closed. I stroked his hair, very lightly. "It's OK, buddy," I said. "It's fine to rest." Slowly he turned his head, resting against my hand. I stroked his head gently and watched as his breathing slowed, relaxing, as the medicine took hold and pain went away.

Family came. That was good for him, I think. Eventually they left, utterly exhausted. They wanted to know, right away, when he died--we knew it would be that night. For the rest of my shift I peeked in on him regularly, calling a nurse for any signs of discomfort. At the end of my shift I was ready to leave but decided to check on him one last time.

He was dead. I walked back into the hall and called his nurse, who had been in his room two minutes before. He'd been alive then. So I called the family as they'd wished, and was able to tell them he'd died two minutes before. They wanted to know right away, and he wanted to die. For once everyone got what they wanted.

Sweet dreams, buddy.


Blogger Mary Beth said...

Oh. No words for this.

8:51 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home