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She Was Waiting for an Angel to Guide Her: A Compassionate Nurse

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This article is about my experience with the hospice nurse that cared for my mother during her final hours with us. The compassion that this nurse portrayed is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Nursing is not just a degree; it is an opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of others.

She Was Waiting for an Angel to Guide Her: A Compassionate Nurse

She Was Waiting for an Angel to Guide Her

Her name was Norma and she was from Rhode Island. It was a hot July day when she came to spend her last days in the hospice unit. I remember so vividly the machines that she was hooked up to, the machines that would not guarantee a longer life, just enough time for her loved ones to gather and say their final goodbyes. She was a beautiful woman and only sixty eight years young. I continuously thought why does she have to leave this world? Why her? I am not ready for this!

There was a nurse on duty that day and when she entered the room I felt an overwhelming peace come over me. She had strawberry blonde hair and a pale complexion. She looked at me and smiled as she walked over to the bed where Norma would spend her final hours. I instinctively knew this nurse had the compassion that Norma needed and deserved. As I approached her, I felt as if this stranger would help me through the most difficult time of my life. How could a stranger be so powerful?

In that room, every moment is precious, every detail is important and every sound is amplified. On this day, the morphine drip was mesmerizing to the point that for a moment it was as if it was in sync with the beating of my heart. I soon realized every drop of morphine that fell was like a countdown to the last breaths that she would take. I looked up and there she was, the strawberry blonde haired nurse. She was just smiling at me, not a happy smile but a very comforting smile. I needn't speak a word to her because my thoughts she already understood.

She quietly said it was time for her to re-position Norma. I told her that I would gladly help her but you see she couldn't have me there. Not because of rules in the hospital but because she wanted to preserve my memories. She did not want me to see what would happen. She cared about how I would forever visualize such event should I have stayed. As I walked out of the room I found myself counting the beeps on the monitor, one, two, three, four, five... Scared but appreciative, I walked out of the room and went down the hall until the beeping faded and then stopped as if it was never heard.

As I sat and waited, other family members had arrived. I told them we had to wait outside the room for a little while. I didn't tell anyone how the nurse had spared my memories, or how she comforted me beyond words; I wanted that to be mine. After what seemed like hours, we were allowed back into the room and when I entered I felt something was different. Norma looked so peaceful and comfortable. An overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me. The nurse looked at me in such a way that I knew it was time to prepare to say goodbye. I did not want to! I was not ready for this; she just got comfortable again she is fine, but she was not fine.

Cyanosis started at her toes and eventually up her legs and so on. The nurse told me that this is normal symptomatic behavior for a hospice patient in her condition. My focus was now on this because I knew that the more observable color, the sooner her last breath would be taken. Time was of the essence.

We all gathered around her bedside and sang a song that she loved, a song that she wrote for all of us. The moment the last word was sung, her last breath was taken at 7:24 p.m. I relive this moment as if it were yesterday, I see the room, the bed, hear the noises from the machines, the crying and even the silence was deafening. Everything is so vividly painful in my mind, all the memories that I had would be all that I had for the rest of my life. I would never hug her, talk with her or laugh with her again. It was over and it was final. But she, the strawberry blonde headed nurse is the most vivid memory of all. Not her face but her compassion, her empathy and most of all her giving Norma, my beloved mother, the dignity and respect that she so deserved during her last hours of her precious life.

My mother went to a hospice unit on a hot July day when she was sixty eight years young. She took the most important journey in her life. She waited for the moment when an angel would come and guide her home. She was respected, loved, cared for and her dignity was preserved by the hands of one nurse. Who is she? I do not know. I do not remember her name, yet she is not faceless; I will remember her face for the rest of my life and I will never forget her.

A nurse is defined as a person trained to care for the sick, to give medical attention and prevent illness and injury. To me, nursing goes beyond that. God Bless all nurses everywhere; you never know what an impact you will make in the lives of others. Thank you for your service.

Lori Modert

My name is Lori Modert and I am anticipating acceptance into the Nursing Program in the Fall. If accepted, I will be attending the night program at CCRI in Lincoln, RI. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was a teenager. I hope my dream becomes a reality.

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7 Comment(s)

tyvin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice / Psych / RNAC.

So much respect and dignity to take a family on that final journey. It's almost unexplainable...

SeattleJess

Specializes in None yet..

I am crying and in awe. Not only that the strawberry blonde nurse could be there for Norma and her family but that you could recognize that she was. May we all have such a guide when we take our last steps. Thanks you so much for a heartful, insightful post. And may her memory be a blessing and a comfort for you.

A beautiful story... Thank you so much for sharing. I am beyond greatful that this lovely nurse could be there for you, your mother, and your family during this time.

Lori,

Beautiful story and well written! I am a soon to be (6 weeks) graduate of CCRI nursing program, night/weekend in Lincoln! Best of luck to you on your future journey, and just think, you get to be that person for someone someday.. What a gift!!

ReadyToListen, CNA, EMT-B

Has 2 years experience.

I'm leaning towards hospice and this is an enormous encouragement to do it right. Thank you.

Thank you everyone for your comments; I appreciate that you took the time to read my article.

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. When my grandmother was in her last week of having an inoperable AAA, she got very sick. During the 4-6 months that we knew she would die soon once it ruptured, I had always pictured that she would die at home in her bedroom she loved so much with her big picture window looking outside. Once she began throwing up coffee grounds, we decided she needed to go to the hospital to get sorted out. Her aneurysm ruptured within an hour of getting there, but it took several hours for her to pass.

I often wondered why it was that she died in a hospital versus at the home she loved. Thanks to your story, I kinda think now that she found angels to guide her.