A Palliative Care Experience

As a woman lay in her bed beside a glass window, she let out a deep sigh. Undoubtedly, it was one of the last few hundred she would take. Perhaps a thousand if she would last that long. The chair at the bedside was warm, but only due to the spring sunlight streaming in from the outside. It had been a long time since she felt the body warmth of a loved one by her side.

The rattling of a fingers against a keyboard drew near, as did the unhurried footsteps of a large group of people. The soft tapping didn’t carry far, absorbed by the large billowy curtains on the wall and around her neighbour’s bed. He was still sleeping. Probably.

The doctors swept into the room, full of sympathetic smiles and hushed, coaxing voices. Most stood slightly off to the side, out of the way. Keeping a respectful distance. But she was alive. Why stand so far unless intimidated by the intimacy of death?

But one, the consultant, sat close. She skipped the empty chair entirely, and borrowed the edge of her bed. The doctor held her hand, and spoke with a firm but gentle tone. She was unafraid of how this woman’s story would be ending. Instead, she picked up her pen, and contributed her own flair of soul to the last few pages.

She finished her questions, and she paused. She listened to what the dying woman had to say, and she sat.

They held hands in silence. For seconds. For a minute.

To the others in the room, it felt like an eternity. An immortal moment of two people sharing their mortality.

But it was only minute.

And then the doctor stood to leave. She smiled, patted the woman’s hand, and left.

It was a quick consult. A brief check-up. The woman was one of the many this doctor had to see. But in that moment, she felt that she was the only one.

And so she sighed again. She looked out of the window, and she waited for the next day to come.