Donna hadn’t been home in several weeks with trips to the ER, hospital, three nursing homes, ICU and Dialysis. Her body was becoming weaker by the day yet her will to live remained absolute. Her wish was to be surrounded by family and to come home to her husband and cat. Every one tried to help her get home but there were many obstacles. Her frail body was shutting down fast.
I asked for guidance to be of loving service to the family in this crisis. Donna was just diagnosed with cancer in addition to already grave health issues. Her days were numbered and she knew it. She wanted to stay strong for the her children and husband. Donna was a woman with a deep spiritual foundation and she was at peace with her past, present and future. She didn’t want to abandon anyone but she wasn’t afraid of dying. It was the in-between stuff that was scary and she kept telling me she was worried about her children especially her son, my husband. I assured her I would always be there for him and she found comfort in that.
For many years her son and daughter have been at odds. She loved them both very much but she knew of their differences and she was okay with that. It is what it is, she said. I wished for the two of them to get along but I have accepted that this may never happen. It is what it is….
During this crisis, I made it my job to keep peace between the two siblings. I volunteered to put myself in the middle but I wasn’t taking or dodging bullets. I was the peacekeeper for Donna and a comfort for my husband and his sister.
Last week Donna had a beautiful day in the nursing home with visits from her loved ones. I spoke with her on the phone and I could see her beaming smile over the lines. She was happy and at peace. The next morning her tired heart stopped and she wasn’t responding to any stimuli. Because there was a full code in place every effort was used to resuscitate her. The staff was able to regain her pulse but they were breathing for her with a ventilator and she was rushed by ambulance to the ER once again. She was supposed to die that morning, but there was more business for Donna to attend to.
The next four days had been nothing but miraculous. During the time that Donna was in the ICU with a ventilator she was unable to speak. I thought it would be a good idea to bring a pad of paper and a crayon in case she wanted to write and she wrote indeed! She wrote her thoughts and wishes to everyone. She wrote in very big letters that she loved us all. The long days and nights in ICU were hard for Donna and her family, but there was more to say and do.
When the day came, Donna asked her doctor that all forms of life support be discontinued and that hospice be called. It was the hardest thing for her to do and it was even harder for her daughter to accept. It was heartbreaking to witness this struggle but something told me I needed to stay even closer to Donna’s side.
Two days ago, Donna made a sudden turn and the doctor said there was not much time so we all rushed to the hospital to be by her side. We all had the opportunity to tell Donna how much we loved her and that it will all be okay. She was taken to a quiet room in the hospital and was made comfortable. I told her daughter to hold her mothers hand and to tell her mother it was okay to go. The hospice nurse told me that Donna was between this world and the next. Several hours had passed with no change so I left with my husband to get some rest. For some reason, I knew she would still be with us when I woke the next morning.
My husband came into the room to he say he loved his mother one more time. Her daughter had stayed up all night holding her hand, praying, singing and talking to her. The hospice staff was concerned that Donna wasn’t passing because her daughter couldn’t let go. She wanted to grant her mothers wish to be home and not in a hospital but the window of opportunity had closed. Transporting her at this time would be too much for her frail body.
I sat in a chair next to the hospital bed quietly for an hour or so with Donna, her daughter and son in law. I prayed silently. I felt Donna could understand everything that was in our minds and hearts. I could feel the struggle of letting go on both sides. I asked her daughter to be silent and to let her go in her mind and heart.
I closed my eyes and went into a place where I could feel Donna’s heart beating. I could feel her anxiety about letting go of her baby girl but I knew what she needed to do.
As if someone was gently nudging me I opened my eyes and stood up slowly, then reached over to the other side of the bed where I gently took my sister in laws hands and placed them into mine. A gentle force raised our hands together above the bed and we held them silently and looked toward the heavens while we gently rocked back and forth by the loving force in the room. We told Donna it was okay to let go into the soft warm blanket of love that awaited her. I felt our arms lifting Donna to her destination, and it was then that she quietly passed. We felt intense love and joy in our hearts and we knew her struggle was over. She was at peace and she was going home.
Thank you for the gift of hope and for allowing me to be a part of that moment with you. I will always cherish it in my heart and soul.
Rest in Peace
Donna Hope Busnelli