I’m not sure if it’s a phenomenon that other volunteers experience from time to time, but there have been several times now where a couple of my patients have died on the same day, or within a day or two of each other. I suppose it’s not overly weird — given the whole nature of the job, and all — but it is startling when it happens. Last week, my two long-ish time patients died a day after each other. Given that my 3rd patient transitioned off hospice (yippee!) a couple weeks before that, I am momentarily bereft of appointments.
I will really really miss my last patient. Not as elderly as the others typically are, she had suffered two TBI’s and although she had spoken a few words when I met her maybe 9-10 months ago, she had long since been non-verbal.
She was, however, my best hand-holder, bar none. I called her the Venus Fly-Trap of hand-holders.
If she heard you by her side, her hand was up and out, opening and closing like the carnivorous plant. Once she honed in on you, you were a goner. You were solidly, happily trapped for a good long time — and serious good-luck to you extricating yourself when it was time to move on.
She was so nice to visit. I would cheerfully chat, and just as cheerfully fall silent for long stretches. Sometimes I would tap my finger on her wrist as we held hands, and on most days — after a bit of a delay — she would tap back.
On very rare occasions, I would get a word or a smile. I think her last words to me were maybe a month ago, when I was asking her to squeeze me back when I squeezed her hand. Maybe a good long minute later — I was onto another thought by then, I’m sure — she came out with a high screechy, “I’m trying!” She would crack me up.
I will miss our visits.