Monday, May 4, 2009
There are some things about hospice that never change, but still cause us to pause and catch our breath, even to those of us who work in it every day. Early this morning, one of our long time patients, Keith, passed away in his home. He had been on hospice with us for the past year and a half and his cat, Libby, has been a friend and companion to him during much of that time. When I took this photo of her, she was running to and fro in his bedroom, playing hide and seek and stopping occasionally for a back scratch before racing off in another direction. Her owner was propped up in his bed watching us play and commented often about her mischievous personality. Truth is, they were two of a kind and Keith's nurse can tell you that he had a mischievous streak of his own. Keith's condition had been somewhat stable for the past couple of months, but took a sudden downturn Friday. When the announcement came from our weekend staff that he had passed, there was an audible gasp from those who were unaware of his status. Even though we know that those with whom we share the journey are typically the ones who finish before us, our sadness at their leaving still catches us off guard sometimes. It is a precious and sacred privilege to do this work, but today our hearts are sad. We will miss him and so will Libby. Libby will stay in her home and be cared for by Keith's partner, who cared so faithfully and patiently for Keith. It was an honor to be a part of all of their lives. Goodbye, Keith, and thanks.