Such a sad story- and very well told. Thank you. I still think about the patients I have "loved and lost" (and it's many, because I work in aged care). Every day something will remind me of one of them - a certain radio station was always the station of choice for one, so I feel like I am listening for both of us, now. Another lady gave me a big tube of lotion and I think of her every time I use it - looking after my skin with it, rather than hers.
Another elder with a rotten bloody disease that gave her great pain (she was on molto, molto opioids) refused to eat anything other than ice cream. She was a wee slip of a thing, her bones as fragile as a bird's, her skin bruised and thin. She was still beautiful; elegant. Her NoK told me she had "lived on the smell of an oily rag," had always made her own clothes and been scrupulous about her skin (she had a fabulous collection of expensive moisturisers).
I said to her, "you HAVE to eat something, don't you?" (She was once a very senior nurse). She looked at me (with her eyes twinkling) and she said, earnestly (facetiously) deferring to my "authority", "Do I?" She used to lie in bed playing Bridge hands on the ceiling, in her mind (and she'd smile and say to me - "should I go kings or tens?" and I'd say - "you're the expert, 'Mary' - you tell me." Then she'd smile and say, "sometimes I win.")
Just before she died, I went into her room one morning and said, "Good morning, 'Mary'." She opened her eyes and said, "Oh! I'm still alive! I thought at first you might be Jesus." I said to her, "I think maybe you still have something left in your life that you need to achieve." She thought about that for a while as I pottered around. Then she said, "I want to write my sister a letter." So I went and found paper and pen and sat by her bed to scribe for her (she was too weak to write).
One of the phrases she spoke to her sister has stuck in my mind: "I think of you often and all of those memories are happy." And she signed the letter: "with ALL of my love - sometimes I win!!"
I think the people we love never leave us - they leave something of themselves in us, that changes us; makes us more than we were....
Sometimes I win!!