Bryson woke up at 5:05 and I’d volunteered the night before to get up with him. I sprinted down the hallway and told him, as I held him to my chest, that it was too early to be up and that I needed him to snuggle with me in the chair. I say that most mornings and he usually mocks me, but this morning, he snuggled in for almost an hour.
When Bryson finally announced, at 5:55, that he was “all done I want to go downstairs,” I was satisfied. We headed downstairs and I got dressed to run on the treadmill while Bryson watched Blaze. It was a nice, easy run with few interruptions. At one point, though, my heart paused and my head said, “today is the day. If she isn’t gone already, she will be soon.”
I knew we wouldn’t make it in time.
I’d sent Jenny’s husband and dad a text about bringing lunch for everyone, and it took too long to hear back. I finally got a text that she’d passed about a half hour earlier. 10:33. I’ll never forget it.
Jenny’s husband then called and said that they would love lunch since no one had eaten, so we got that setup as we rolled into town. He then texted saying he had gone home, but to take the food to the family and then to come hang out with him. I was glad he wanted company.
I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go, but I was pretty nervous walking into hospice. We saw Jenny’s parents first and spent some time with them. They sent us to Jenny’s waiting area where the rest of the family was. Her sister was dressing her in something that she would have liked, not a hospital gown. What a great sister.
Jenny’s aunt asked if we wanted to see her. I really, really did want to see her. I was surprised by that reaction, but I almost couldn’t get up fast enough to go and sit with her. Hottie came with me and we sat with her for a bit. Death and dead bodies don’t really bother me – it’s the final phase of life that happens to us all. I was, though, a little afraid to see my dead friend.
My dead friend.
She looked wonderful. She looked peaceful. I immediately pulled up a chair, grabbed ahold of her hands, and started to talk to her. I talked for a long time, so long that Hottie left the room. No one else was waiting to see her just then, so I stayed with her, and I talked to her. Good god, I did a lot of talking. Every word out of my mouth felt more and more natural, and I felt more and more at peace.
I know Jenny’s dad came in to check on us, and he and I talked. We both talked to her. I think her mom came in, I’m not sure. I swear she did. A nurse came in and I learned first hand how hospice nurses know just what to say at just the right moment. I was terrified to leave her alone in that room, so I just stayed.
Eventually, I got up to see if I was keeping anyone from her. Hottie wanted to get to Ben, so we decided it was time to leave. We heard that she was being cremated tonight, so we took one final look at her, blew her a kiss, and left.
It felt wonderful to see Ben. He needed an open, honest, light conversation, and that’s what the three of us had. It was nice. He told us all about her final week and I am so glad I didn’t see Jenny like that. The last time we spoke, she was rather well and smiling. I’m glad that’s my last memory of her.
Their son woke up and they needed to get back to hospice to see Jenny one last time. Ben wanted to change clothes so we got E ready to go. Hugging him was like hugging his mom. It was hard to let go. As we all walked down the stairs together, Ben said, “let’s go see Mommy.”
My heart broke.
We lost a dear friend today. But our dear friend lost his wife. And a sweet 2 year old lost his mom. And a kind couple lost their first-born. And two younger sisters lost their oldest sister. Everybody lost someone very special today. Only Jenny gained. Jenny is at peace now, and as hard as it is for everyone left behind, there is comfort in her peace.
Fly free, Jenny! I love you.