She arrived hesitantly at the door and rang the doorbell, not really knowing why she had come. Her husband’s memory drew her to this special place where he had breathed his last breath. Feeling anxious, she wasn’t sure what she planned to do. Thankfully a familiar face became visible through the glass door. Someone greeted her by name. She had not seen the personal support worker for a year to the day. And she remembered her name. She fumbled with her words. “Do you really remember who I am?” she asked. “Of course, I remember. You are Alan’s wife.”
The widow needed to connect with someone who had been present at her husband’s death. After a year of grief she needed to mark this first anniversary with a pilgrimage back to the hospice. She would love to be able to sit in the room where she and Alan had said good-bye forever. Could it be possible that the room would be empty?
The staff invited her to sit and have tea in Alan’s room. She sat down in the inviting lazy boy, reminiscing back to the day that she and Alan had arrived. The blue room looked out on a natural wooded area through French doors. Birds fluttered around the birdfeeder. She felt calmed by this familiar space. She remembered its peaceful atmosphere and replayed in her mind all that had transpired in those last few hours and minutes. There was a change in his breathing. His colour changed. She was in a state of shock. Good-byes. Words of love. Silence. The staff had been so attentive and so kind. Her family had been present. The tea reminded her of the nurturing she had received that difficult day. She would drink it today.
An annual golf tournament. That was what she was going to do for this amazing place. The hospice was funded through the community and she could help financially. Alan would approve. She was sure that his golf buddies would help her as would her mother and children. She would try to get some publicity for the tournament through the newspaper. After all, what a story she could tell. Alan had been at the hospice for only a few hours after his transfer from hospital. The nurse who had come to the hospital from the hospice was worried about the transfer. After Alan’s quick death she now understood why. Imagine being remembered by name by the staff after a year! She was sure that it wasn’t coincidence that Alan’s room was empty. A flood of tears and waves of grief engulfed her as she replayed those last breaths and those last minutes. She felt no embarrassment. The staff at the hospice actually anticipated her grief and suffering. Few words were exchanged. There was just a profound understanding of her need and of her grief. Now she was at peace with her one final goodbye…