The last week of my aunt’s life she was in the hospital on isolation. My mom, who had surgery the prior week, was not able to visit due to the risk of infection at her surgical site. I recommended to my mom that at her follow-up appointment September 25th she ask her doctor to clear her to visit my aunt.
That day, as the days prior, I was at the hospital waiting on doctors to make their rounds and get my aunt scheduled for surgery to re-sect her bowels as the tumors were growing into the intestines. The surgery was a palliative (comfort) measure, without which her intestines could rupture causing her to become septic. It would also allow her to eat which was important to my aunt.
Around 4pm September 25th I called my mom to see how her appointment went and to let her know that my aunt’s surgery was scheduled for the afternoon of September 26th. My mom said that her doctor had cleared her to visit my aunt and she would come in the morning to see her before the surgery. I said “ok sounds good, see you tomorrow”, and hung up.
What I did next was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever done (and I’ve done a lot of weird things).
I IMMEDIATELY re-dialed my mom and said “Are you coming to visit Aunt Josie tonight?” (My mom had just told me less than 1 minute ago she was coming in the morning). My mom’s reply was just as peculiar. Without missing a beat she said “Yes, I’ll come tonight about 6:30” and hung up.
8:15am September 26th I got a call from the hospital that my aunt had an “incident” and they were “working on her”. I told the nurse I was on my way to the hospital and headed out the door.
Having worked in health care for 20+ years I knew that the call I had just received meant one of 2 things – upon my arrival at the hospital I would either need to make the decision to take her off life support or that she was already gone.
It was the latter, they were unable to revive her and she was deceased.
I wish I could say that it was my heightened intuition that caused me to call my mom back, however; I’m not that insightful. As a Christian I believe God’s Spirit caused me to hit redial facilitating the interaction which allowed my mom seeing her sister alive one last time.
Having assisted family caregivers and cared for several of my own family members I have found that there are things that happen during the caregiving journey that in retrospect cannot be explained. Most often we don’t see them while they are happening as we are too focused on the tasks at hand.
Some lessons learned:
- Be present with the people around you (not thinking of the next place you have to be or thing you have to do)
- Take note of the little miracles each day (they are happening all around us we may just be too busy to notice them)
- Appreciate the time you have (or had) with those you love.
- Tell the people you love how you feel about them because we never know what tomorrow will bring