A last goodbye

My longtime friend died this morning at 11:30 am. I arrived a little after eleven, and noticed her breathing was more labored than usual, the right hand clammy, the left hand quite warm. Yesterday I burned a CD of her favorite music, which she enjoyed during the afternoon and evening. The last thing she said to me was yesterday, when she mumbled "I know" in acknowledgement when I told her who the musician was. (He died last year, and she had known him well.)

This morning I noticed that the night nurse (not realizing its significance) had taken out the favorite CD and put on something else, so I took that out and put her favorite back in the CD player. Within minutes, she relaxed competely, her breathing slowed way down, and then the breathing began to stop intermittently for as long as ten seconds at a time. I called her son at work, and told him his mom was very close. Within a few minutes of that, her eyes (closed all day yesterday and today) suddenly opened. She stopped breathing (I kept holding her hand, telling her I loved her) and I could feel her erratic pulse dissolve into the tiniest little hints of a pulse (like barely perceptible tinglings of final electric activity). Her stare slowly faded as she met her peace.

I don't know whether this is an appropriate place to discuss such a thing, but I don't see why not. Ours is a society which too often relegates death to status resembling something hidden, something not talked about. That's a good enough reason for me to talk about it here. (Without names, of course.)

She's at rest.

I think a little rest would be a good thing for me right now too.

Whatever is going on (and there's always plenty!) can just wait.

posted by Eric on 05.11.04 at 03:41 PM


sorry to hear about that...take care of yourself.

jsb   ·  May 12, 2004 11:13 AM

My sincere condolences.

Bill from INDC Journal   ·  May 12, 2004 12:05 PM

My wife has Huntington's Disease. We will share the exact same experience sometime not far down the road. Brings a tear, but a knowing one. You have a new daily reader, and not just because of this.

Live on.

RD   ·  May 12, 2004 2:29 PM

I really appreciate these comments, especially because I wasn't sure that I should even be writing about this. Now I'm glad I did.

Thank you all.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 12, 2004 5:35 PM

She was fortunate to have you as a friend.

Allan Beatty   ·  May 12, 2004 7:39 PM

My sincerest condolences, Eric. And what a wonderful friend you are for being with her at her last moment.

Dave   ·  May 13, 2004 1:42 AM

Eric, please let me offer my condolences. May she rest in peace.

Persnickey Marie   ·  May 13, 2004 2:09 PM

Dear Eric:

You have all my condolences. Bless your dear friend when she arrives in Valhalla (or Sessrumnir) or Heaven or whatever awaits. She was lucky to have a friend like you. Bless you always.

And to RD: Bless you and your wife.

So sorry about your loss.

sal   ·  May 15, 2004 2:29 AM

Thank you Alan, Dave, Marie, Steven, Sal, and again, everyone. I really appreciate your very kind thoughts and wishes.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 15, 2004 2:17 PM

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