sitting bedside, with intentional, compassionate presence, i begin to look around. i listen. stateserv durable medical equipment bubbling away, providing moist O2 with a gentle hummmm. soundscapes on the tv playing endless enya and native flute music. right outside the room a resident jokes loudly and inappropriately about hugging someone. a man is yelling for a haircut. NOW. loud laughter garbles and overlaps clinking glasses, staff activity, constant movement and the facility vacuum cleaner.
she lies under a white sheet only, breathing about 8-10 breaths a minute. her neck is arched and her jaw relaxed. her eyes are half closed, milky blue. long white hairs bristle from her chin. she does not respond to my voice or touch. she is deep in her transition from this life to the next. there is no struggle or anxiety, just regular breaths, in and out, through her mouth. i brush her thin, white hair, the very color of her pillowcase. high cheekbones hold the oxygen cannula. she has not moved in the half hour I have been here.
i wonder. where is she? is she thinking or feeling or aware of any of the sounds and commotion around her? does she know she is not alone? or does it matter?
she told me several visits ago that she felt “quaky.” but she was not afraid; she said she was not afraid. so, I imagine and trust that she has found a place of peace and comfort. A place of compassionate presence where she will be able to rest until she is able to let go and begin her final journey.