“I’ll Get the Nurse.”

4083313311_812b927533_oWent to visit my hospice client today, 89-year-old woman at a care facility–chatty, non-religious, says she’s ready to go, but she has family members that are holding on. I will call her Alice (as is standard, I’m changing her identity for confidentiality reasons).

I go every Friday. I walk up to the front desk and say, “I’m a hospice volunteer. I’m here to see Alice.” Mostly they recognize me and just wave me on, but this time I get a look, a little bit of panic.

“Wait right here. I’ll go get the nurse.”

Most of my clients have been in their homes, being cared for by family or a friend. When it was clear they were getting close to their deaths, I usually got a phone call from either the caretaker or my supervisor:

You don’t need to come in today.

At the end, the family closes in around them and I, as a friendly stranger, am outside that inner circle. This has felt right. The sadness I have is soft, like what I have at the change of the seasons. Time passes.

But with Alice, this felt kind of jagged. The nurse came out from a back room with a grim look on her face.

“Alice fell down. She’s at the hospital.”

She got a gash in her head and fractured her knee. I was surprised she had been up and moving around, as it seems like every time she stands up lately, she gets dizzy and falls over.

It’s Friday. I won’t hear anything about Alice over the weekend. But even though it’s the weekend, her experience will continue. Time passes. And even though it’s the weekend, I will wonder about her, if I’m going to visit next week.

I’m glad I hugged her when I saw her last week.

Time passes.

Discuss.