Being part of a caring community means standing by each other in sad times, as well as happy ones. Kendalite Marie is a member of the Supporting Friends committee. One of the special things they do is sit with residents who are near the end of life. She writes about a recent experience where she stayed with a friend as his chapter with us came to a close.
I notice that his color is different from my earlier visits, and he has oxygen in his nose. First, I make sure Schubert’s Lieder is playing. The gorgeous melodies fill the room. Dick loves music.
Photos of his family hang all over the walls. A poster for Romeo and Juliet is taped to the closet door, with a photo of the Obama family above it. A copied photo of Dick, holding hands with a small child, walking through the woods, catches my eye. Close by, a note in a child’s hand, says:
Thank you for the letter.
“Love at the Heart of Things” lies in the bookcase, near “A Procession of Friends” and “Socialism and Abundance.” I sit quietly, not wanting to knit. Just sit, listen to the melodies and watch him.
A nurse comes in, turns off the oxygen, and listens for a long time for a heartbeat. None. She says “Rest in peace,” and cracks open the window. A second nurse arrives. She listens. Also nothing. She checks that I’m OK.
He is dead. A true Quaker. A lovely man who, with Sadie, welcomed me here three years ago.
I open the curtains wide to let in the sun. I changed the CD to allow his soul to soar with Saint Matthew’s Passion. I sit with him for another hour.
What do I feel? Sad. Honored to sit beside him. Grateful for all the love and beauty in my life.