One of our favorite patients had been in and out of our small, rural hospital several times, and all of us on med-surg had grown quite attached to her and her husband. In spite of terminal cancer and resulting pain, she never failed to give us a smile or a hug. Whenever her husband came to visit, she glowed. He was a nice man, very polite and as friendly as his wife. I had grown quite attached to them and was always glad to care for her.
I admired their __expression of love. Daily, he brought her fresh flowers and a smile, then sat by her bed as they held hands and talked quietly. When the pain was too much and she cried or became confused, he hugged her gently in his arms and whispered until she rested. He spent every available moment at her bedside, giving her small sips of water and stroking her brow. Every night, before he left for home, he closed the door so they could spend time alone together. When he was gone, we'd find her sleeping peacefully with a smile on her lips.
On this night, however, things were different. As soon as I entered report, the day nurses informed us she had steadily taken a turn for the worse and wouldn't make it through the night. Although I was sad, I knew that this was for the best. At least my friend wouldn't be in pain any longer.
I left report and checked on her first. When I entered the room, she aroused and smiled weakly, but her breathing was labored and I could tell it wouldn't be long. Her husband sat beside her, smiling, too, and said, "My Love is finally going to get her reward."
Tears came to my eyes, so I asked if they needed anything and left quickly. I offered care and comfort throughout the evening, and at about midnight she passed away with her husband still holding her hand. I consoled him and with tears running down his cheeks he said, "May I please be alone with her for awhile?" I hugged him and closed the door behind me.
I stood outside the room, blotting my tears and missing my friend and her smile. And I could feel the pain of her husband in my own heart. Suddenly from the room came the most beautiful male voice I have ever heard singing. It was almost haunting the way it floated through the halls. All of the other nurses stepped out into the hallways to listen as he sang "Beautiful Brown Eyes" at the top of his lungs.
When the tune faded, the door opened and he called to me. He looked me in the eyes then hugged me saying, "I sang that song to her every night from the first day we met. Normally I close the door and keep my voice down so as not to disturb the other patients. But I had to make sure she heard me tonight as she was on her way to heaven. She had to know that she will always be my forever love. Please apologize to anyone I bothered. I just don't know how I will make it without her, but I will continue to sing to her every night. Do you think she will hear me?"
I nodded my head "yes," unable to stop my tears. He hugged me again, kissed my cheek, and thanked me for being their nurse and friend. He thanked the other nurses, then turned and walked down the hall, his back hunched, whistling the song softly as he went.
As I watched him leave I prayed that I, too, would someday know that kind of forever love.
Thursday, March 20, 2008