Well, the 30 year old patient died this morning. It was the saddest thing. He had been looking rather bad all night, so we figured it was imminent. He rallied yesterday...out of bed, talking. They usually rally before they die. Sometimes this is a bad thing as it always gives the family hope.
This patient's sister came to keep vigil. We had a cot for her and she had it right next to the bed so she could hold his hand. A couple times I would go in to check on them, and there they would both be sleeping, and holding hands.
I was in another patient's room when one of the new grad nurses came in. "I think he is gone," she whispered. I went to the room and I could tell by looking at him that she was right. Death robs even the palest person of any discernable color. He lay there, his cherubic face peaceful as if sleeping. The sister was still sleeping, I did notice that she wasn't holding his hand. I felt my throat tighten.
I touched the patient, he was cool. I looked for any breathing. I felt for a pulse. I listened for a heartbeat. I found nothing. I looked at the new grad and shook my head. She leaned over and gently shook the sister.
She gasped, bewildered. For days she has been told this was going to happen, supported her brother in his decision to let go...and still it did not prepare her for the reality that her little brother had just died within arm's reach. She held his cool, pale hand. "I...I wasn't ready." She smoothed his hair and she fought the tears. We left the room so she could be alone with him. Other staff members on our floor had heard of his passing, and they met me outside the room. Everyone had tears in their eyes...myself included. We all had taken care of this patient at some point or another during one of his many hospital visits. He was dealt a wicked hand of sickness that spanned his entire life. In the 30 years of his life, he nowhere near did half the things that I've gotten to do in mine. Death was a blessing for him, and I am grateful that it was peaceful.
And that is all I am going to say about that...