I received the phone call from Susan, the Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, that a client’s family would like some respite care for their mother, Martha. Martha was actively dying, and it was important to her family that someone was with Martha every minute during these final hours. Incidentally, it is a creed of Tabitha that no one should die alone.
I was asked to provide a silent presence for two hours, at which time another volunteer would replace me, and this would go on until the family was again able to be present. This was a non-Buckley visit. Just me.
I had gone through the hospice volunteer training, but I was apprehensive. This was my first phone call and all of a sudden I had no idea what to do. But a little voice in me rose up to say, “Ya big dummy – isn’t this why you did the training?!” Though a little scared, I took the shift and started down the road to Martha’s bedside.
When I got there, the nurse in the room could tell that I was scared. I will never, ever forget her for the rest of my life. She took my hand gently, looked me in the eyes with reassurance and said simply,
“All you need to do is make sure she is safe.”
That moment always brings tears to my eyes when I think of her genuineness, compassion, kindness and love. In that very moment, and with those simple words, she created a life-long hospice volunteer.
I sat at Martha’s side for two hours. Never moving, always watching, ever present. Because no one should die alone.