Finishing up a week at the “house”. As I sit getting ready to leave for the weekend, I wonder who will still be here Monday. Each room has such a unique story, with vibrant characters.
Room 1. 80 year old woman dying of heart failure. Her well dressed husband is hard of hearing, a “talker” with a scruffy voice like Louie Armstrong. “I guess I’m the biggest fool here at this place, not wanting to leave her side. From the moment I left the Navy, walked off the boat and saw her, I’ve never been the same. I just can’t be away. My kids told me I should go get some rest, but I woke up at 4 this morning with her on my mind. She’s not opening her eyes anymore, but I think she knows I’m here” His booming voice echo’s through the house. He pats her hand, his eyes well up, “I don’t know how I’m going to make it with out her”
Room 17. 50 year old man dying of liver failure. He is a skeleton with a sheet covering him. Eyes sunk back, mouth open, eyes glazed over. Soft classic rock is playing in the background. He was a drummer for a band and his friends say he lived a rough life: drugs, alcohol, you name it. He’s alone now. He can’t let go, afraid of what awaits him. He had 40,000mg of morphine yesterday and is still not comfortable. Fighting demons we can’t imagine.
Room 20. 70 year old woman dying of breast cancer. She’s a big woman, Italian, still in her flower patterned night gown. Her three daughters are now all in town. Big women, with big hair, each a different bouffant style. Their loud boisterous voices and personalities seem to match their appearance. The youngest daughter tells me “When I arrived, Mama’s spark came back, her color’s so much better…” The middle one at the same time, “She’s really plateaued don’t you think, doesn’t have that same rattle when she breathes…” While the oldest chimes is, “Mama’s going to surprise us yet, why, her temp’s down to 101 from 103” and then all three ask me, “What do you think, do you see the same improvements?” While all the facts they stated are true, I have to still remind them that she’s dying. There loud chatter and banter with each other follow me out of the room.
People may think my job is boring- the outcome already known – Death. But each room is such a colorful story that I get to enter into briefly, how could it be boring!?