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When love and compassion become golden

I wish I could write you something cheerful, but it’s not in my heart to do so at this time.

I’ve been trying to comfort a special aunt of mine who knew, as I did, that her life would soon be over. She had congestive heart failure, among other things, but over the past few months her worn out heart could no longer keep up with her weakening lungs.

She was so weak that sitting up was only done when she sat in her recliner. Even then, she would often fall forward to one side. Getting her from the recliner to her bed was a challenge for both of us. She’d place those weak arms around my waist and somehow find the strength to pat me on my back and tell me she loved and appreciated me. That would always put a lump in my throat, but a smile in my heart.

I’d hold her up while she’d drag her feet or stand on mine as I walked to place her in the middle of the bed. She had a fear of falling off the bed. That was very unlikely because she would be in the same position the following morning as she was the night before, but I would do anything I could to ease her mind.

My goal was to be her rock and strength, and to give all the comfort there was left to give, which was very little. She deserved at least that much. Of course, I wasn’t alone in this, because God remained my strength and support, and I was just passing one blessing for another.

My heart stayed torn in pieces during this time. I have two grandchildren who live with me that I love very much, so I’d carry guilt when I had to leave one alone to take care of the other. I told my aunt I needed two of me, and she agreed.

The sweetest moments I shared with my aunt were when I’d say or do something to make her laugh. Those times were few and far between.

In less than two weeks she had gone from home to rehab to the ER. Adding to everything else she had going wrong, she was now in kidney failure. She was in a no-win situation. The IV’s needed to help her kidneys would fill her lungs up with fluids. During this time I kept telling my aunt I loved her, and even though her voice had become so weak she still managed a light whisper telling me she loved me, too.

The fluids had begun to swell her left arm, which I expected. Her kidneys were only acting because of medication she was being given.

It was now time to explain all that she was going through to her son and grandchildren. I had to find a way to deal with such a difficult and touching subject. It broke their hearts, but they finally realized it was time to let her go.

I explained that the nurses were heeding the doctor’s orders but that the family could refuse treatment. Then, and only then, all IV’s would be removed and she could go as she wanted.

Within ten minutes, she took one last gasping breath, and her pain, fears and heartaches were over. I miss her, but I did everything I could for her, so my heart is at ease.

I would like to end this article by giving you something to consider. Give those you love your kindness, support and love. Do those little things they ask for. They may seem like senseless things to you, but they mean something to the person you love. While they are living, it is so, so important. That way, you won’t have any regrets after they are gone.

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