November 16, 2007

The little old lady that I visit in the nursing home died yesterday.  It was unexpected...well, as unexpected as can be for a 90-year old.  She wasn't in poor health, and she wasn't showing any signs of trouble.  The staff didn't see it coming either:  most of them know from years of experience when it's time to "stand vigil" on a client, and they didn't suspect her.  She was cold yesterday afternoon (nothing new really, she is (was) always cold) and asked to be put in bed for a nap.  She never woke up.

I'm all right...kind of bummed, actually--I didn't realize how attached I had gotten to her over the last several weeks until I learned she passed away.  I mean, I expected that it was going to happen soon, especially since at her age she was living on borrowed time.  But it was still a shock.  The last time I saw her, she was still scared of being alone and still thought it was too dark (she was pretty much blind), but she was feistier than usual.  She was all about singing that day--she remembered a lot of words to those songs, and even got me into warbling "God Bless America" along with her (and God knows I can't sing!).

Two things stand out now.  I remember when I left on Friday, I told her "good bye."  All the time I'd been seeing her, I never told her that before--I usually told her "stay out of trouble."  But for some reason, that came out.  And then today, after I dropped my son off at childcare, instead of going straight to see her as I usually do, I felt compelled to run every single errand I thought of, making my visit to her the last thing on my to-do list.  I guess I didn't want to go there for some reason...now I know what it was.

I'm comforted by the fact that she went in her sleep and probably didn't feel a thing, and also by the fact that where she is now, there's plenty of light.  Or there better be, because she was afraid of the dark.

I realize I'm going to see a fair amount of death in my job as a nurse.  I was hoping that it'd wait until I actually started nursing.

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