We’ve just bought a brand spanking new bedroom setting. Its towering wooden bed head makes me feel so tiny…but like a Princess! Anyway, yesterday, while clearing the space for our new bed, I found hidden under the old bed, a book. A very very special book.
I held it in my hands like a newborn…..and I considered not opening it because what’s on the pages makes me cry. But I had to as the written memories inside are a treasure trove for my soul.
The book is from Hospice, from the saintly staff that cared for Savannah in her final months. Each person, even her doctor, wrote a tribute to Savannah about how she touched their life.
Inscribed inside its blue covers are words that have been carefully penned through tears and truths. Composed with an intimate understanding and involvement only those of us would recognize having had the extraordinary privilege of caring for someone in their final days.
I almost passed up the opportunity and honor of having Hospice in our house; that would have made a huge difference to our daughter’s comfort in the days that mattered most.
When Hospice gracefully entered our home, things were grim. I had a broken leg, Savannah’s feeding tube was leaking, her pain was increasing and her health was deteriorating. Deteriorating like everything in our lives…Savannah…our marriage….and her sister Dempsey’s patience at the lack of attention she was getting as a one-year-old.
I was a nurse. Couldn’t I do it all? As her mother, shouldn’t I have been able to? No! I finally admitted I needed help, and lots of it.
Hospice wasn’t a foreign concept to me. They’d cared for my adored mum in her final days. They took control of Mum’s pain with morphine. They showered her in a chair and fed her spirit with cheerful chatter each day while they made her bed.
However, I had a hard time handing over the reins of Savannah’s care to an unknown organization….to strangers. I was scared. Our 4 year old daughter was the most important thing in my world.
Looking back, I wish I had of let them into our world sooner, so I could play the most important role in Savannah’s life…simply being her loving mum. And hospice allowed me that honor in her last months.
They are such a dedicated group of people, like a team of vigilantes who do a job that requires extraordinary compassion. To me, hospice staff have invisible wings. They are earth angels that give so much more of themselves than what is ‘medically’ required of them.
They provided not only a hospital bed that we put in our lounge room, but oxygen tanks, an air bed that circulated around Savannah’s fragile limbs to help prevent more bed sores…and the icing on the cake…liquid meds that was FedEx’d to our door.
Before Hospice, I had to stand in long queues at Rite Aid for Savannah’s medicine, then crush them and add water, mixing the different potions that were assisting in keeping her alive.
Then there’s the emotional side. These wonderful people became like family to us. One nurse, in particular (Julie!) witnessed the raw pain, the gut wrenching torture of Peter and I having to watch our daughter struggle to die. When I was at the lowest point of my life, when I didn’t think I could take any more, she would wrap her arms around me and allow me to sob and let out my grief.
I couldn’t have made the impact to Savannah’s final days that Hospice did.
The gift they gave me was time to sit with Savannah, to smooth her forehead and hold her hand and not leave her bedside. The gift they gave my child was a peaceful pain free passing to the other side…where there’s no more suffering for her.
And the book…well, sitting on my dusty carpet yesterday, reading the Hospice staff’s memories brought my daughter back to life. Amongst their words I found Savannah and what she meant to others, and it was like a warm hug. I closed the book and held it to y chest just like I would if she was here.
I’d like to leave with you with Julie’s words, her nurse.
“A letter to Savannah”
My dearest Savannah.
What I learned most in life was from your death. You taught me to appreciate life, and my family.
I savor every small thing, things like the sound of cracking from a bat when my son hits a ball, or my older sons snoring…which means his breathing.
I learned to relax and let all the chips fall as they may, and knowing not all is in my control.
Your bravery taught me not to fear death; it has helped me do better at my job. I believe that because of you, I have been able to handle many situations, many families and make their passing smoother.
I believe when you were born there was already a plan for you. In that short amount of time that you were on earth, you probably enriched more lives than an elderly person.
Your passing brought about pain that I never knew. In my selfish way, I wanted you to stay. I wanted to be able to see your beautiful face, your eyes….. Savvy you taught me in a short time without speaking even…..what some people take a lifetime to learn.
I hope your smile will light the way for me when it’s time to leave here.
I hope I find your strength, your courage, your bravery when I am faced with any challenge.
I loved you the moment I met you and I miss you everyday.
God Bless –
Diana Doyle 2011