One year ago, today I sat by my friend’s bedside at the hospice house as she actively started to transition to the other side.
Months prior she had asked me to be with her at the end and I promised I would be. At that time, I think she was afraid of transitioning, but we had many talks as her cancer progressed and she became more peaceful about it.
I arrived in the morning to meet her daughter who cautioned me that there had been a big change in her over the past 24 hours and that she had not woken up. Not only did I want to be there for my friend but also for her daughter who was witnessing her mother’s rapid decline.
Hospice is an amazing service, and the staff are angels on earth. The peace and comfort they provide to the entire family is indescribable and I would encourage anyone who is nearing death to consider bringing hospice in.
When her daughter left, I settled in and the quiet of the room was deafening. This was it. My vibrant friend’s spirit was leaving her body and I knew that for a little while longer I needed to keep it together to support her. She was sleeping and looked so peaceful. And so, I did what we had always done for so many years, sipped my coffee and started talking to her about life, family, Spirit as well as the little everyday moments. This time it was a one-sided conversation, but I held her hand and I know she heard me.
As the day progressed and the hospice nurse explained the dying process my friend was going through, I started having the conversations I knew would be our last. My son Connor died from SIDS in 1997. He would be the same age her son is now. We had made a pact that she would look after Connor in heaven, and I would look after her kids here. I promised her that I would watch after them and her husband. I told her that I knew she was tired and wanted to go and that it was OK. She had already told me what her sign to me would be to let me know she was around me and I told her I would keep my eyes open as well as my heart for when she was nearby.
For anyone who hasn’t sat with someone in their final hours it’s hard to describe but there’s a spiritual power that comes over the space. As the CEO of a non-profit that supports bereaved parents and as a bereaved mom myself, I’m more accustomed to dealing with death than many people. My time for breaking down would come but right now I wanted to be present for my friend. I needed to keep it together a little while longer.
When her husband arrived that evening, I ordered dinner and a bottle of wine for us. We ate and talked about his day. We talked about what we should do for Thanksgiving (for years we always had Thanksgiving together at my home.) He shared with me when my friend and he first met, when they first got married and had kids. And he talked about the plans they had made for the future.
And now it was his time to be with his wife alone.
I kissed her head and told her I would be back tomorrow but deep down I knew these were the last words she would hear me say. I told her I loved her. I thanked her for our friendship and how she had made me a better person. I asked her to watch over Connor and that I would see her again.