Gypsy's Travels

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Vigil

None of us ever envisioned this - Mother resting comfortably in a hospice hospital bed. She was always so feisty and determined that seeing her in this situation is almost unfathomable. She was felled by a clot in the brain. We must all meet our end, but this is not the end any of us would have chosen had any of us had a voice in the matter.

Hospice has been around for a long time but I had never had any personal experience with it until now. Everything I have heard about it is true. The staff is wonderful, competent , and caring. They care, not only for the patient, but they care for the family. No deed is too insignificant for them. Settling Mother in, I mentioned that she seemed to like having her left hand out from under the covers. They immediately asked if there were anything else that seemed to make her comfortable. It was a small thing to do, but it was significant in indicating the depth of their attention to detail for her comfort.
The staff understands that she has not been able to hear for years, but they talk to her anyway, to provide reassurance and tell her what they are doing. They explain everything to us as we maintain our bedside vigil, come quickly when called, and provide relief for her whenever it is needed.
We wrestled at great length with the decisions that brought us here, but we are convinced that this is the most natural way for our Mother to continue on the journey that we must all take. The pamphlet hospice gave us says includes these thoughts by Henry Van Dyke:

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear the load of living freight to her destination port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. and just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There, she is gone!" There are other eyes, watching the coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.


  1. You know that we feel for all of your family and wish we could do more.

  2. Gypsy, I am so sorry. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I can imagine that it is so very difficult. This has to be one of the hardest things in life. I know well the fear and dread of this moment, though I have not had to walk in your shoes yet.

    Your post is beautifully written and touching. Know that I am praying for you and your family. If I had any, I would give you great words of comfort. I know that you are a good daughter, and I am sure your mother is so very, very proud of you.


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