Saturday, 13 July 2013

Visiting someone in a hospice

is not an experience I welcome. I admit I am quite cowardly about such things. Perhaps other people are too. Who wants to face their own mortality as well as that of the people they love?
Nevertheless I went to visit someone yesterday. I went because I like the person I went to visit. I went because I would want people to visit my family - if they were in that position and wanted visitors. I went because I want to offer her husband support.
I went for all sorts of reasons.
I have not seen this person for more than two weeks - not since she was rushed back to hospital on a Sunday afternoon. Her husband took her, not even wanting to wait for an ambulance.
Since then we have been waiting for news. The immediate neighbours have been leaving meals for him and the two children. I offered too but he told me quietly that he had put some things in the freezer because there was more than they needed - for now.
He is a teacher. State schools here are in the middle of the two week winter break so he is spending hours with her.
Yesterday morning he caught up with me and told me they had moved her from the hospital which would take me most of the day to get to and from to the hospice. I can pedal to the hospice. It's a fifteen minute journey there and a twenty minute journey back. The journey back is just slightly up the hill.
It was raining but the Senior Cat and I agreed I should go anyway. We know there are people who will be staying away because it is difficult to visit anyone in her position.
Yes, she is dying. We all know that. She knows that. She is only 45. She will be leaving behind a husband and two teenage children.
She has not been able to eat for weeks now. She is being "fed" artificially, not to keep her alive as such but to keep her comfortable.
She is not able to speak either. The cancer, which started in her thyroid has gone to her oesophagus. When they operated to try and remove the cancer they took away her capacity to physically speak as well.
But, none of this has stopped her "talking". I went in to find her holding court. Her mother-in-law was there. She has been their rock throughout this. Her husband was there. And there was a mate of his who rides a Harley-Davidson....ah yes, the Harley-Davidson. Her husband still hankers after a Harley-Davidson. She shook her head and gave me a look which said, "Boys and their toys!" We all laughed.
She held out her arms for me and we hugged -long and hard. Underneath her top I could feel every bone and she was shaking slightly but she put her head on my shoulder and snuggled in like a small child.
Her husband looked at me from behind her as if to say, "She needs  that."
Her mother-in-law and the Harley-Davidson rider left. We spent another ten minutes "talking" but I could see she was tired.
"I'm going," I told her and I could see her disappointment but I said, "You're tired. I'll come back - and that's a promise."
She will have visitors over the weekend. The visiting hours in the hospice are 24/7. They just ask you to be particularly quiet at night.
I'll prowl down there on Monday but, before I left, we had another hug.
I'll give her a hug on Monday too.

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