This Monday morning just after midnight at 12:33AM, our dear friend, Elaine, passed away.
She was in her own bed at home, with her brother at her side, her little doggie companion, Larry; and, by the grace of God, I was there, too. We had called in a nurse for the evening to help, Lucy, who is a darling Christian woman from Haiti, who helped me and Darlene with Elaine's care when she first came home from her original lung cancer surgery 3 years ago. Lucy was standing with us, and it was such a comfort to all of us...even to Elaine, I'm sure.
On Thursday of last week Elaine got her hair fixed, had her nails done, a pedicure, and played a "last game" (she told me) of her weekly card game at her house. After the cards, she was taking Larry out, fell on the concrete patio and really scrapped her face. Darlene was with her at the time. They immediately called me. I went over and we three sat and talked over what it meant with concern. That was the very last afternoon we were able to do that with Elaine really conscious. That evening and the next evening she crumpled and fell again going to the bathroom even with me beside her. My DH, Darlene and I all had to get her back to bed. We knew it wasn't good....she became more and more "out of it" as every hour passed.
I stayed Thursday night with her and all the rest of the days and nights until she died....we took turns giving her morphine and a mild muscle relaxant every 2 hrs., and finally morphine every hour as her pain increased. Darlene working with her early mornings until 2Pm, and me from then and through the night until 7AM when Dar got there. She remained on a surprisingly moderate to low dose of morphine....so it really was the overwhelming progression of her disease that beat her this final time.
Darlene is the "I need to do something," one of our little threesome. So, she ran errands during the morning into the late afternoon, bringing medical supplies, food, prescriptions, milkshakes, picking Elaine's brother up from the airport, and whatever was needed. She helped with phone calls to Hospice and to setting up home health aides (which we never ended up using after all our calls and scheduling...), calls for medical equipment and oxygen refills.
I'm the emoting one....so I did the actual caretaking of Elaine. Staying up with her all through the night, giving her meds by the hour, whispering and talking with her even when she slipped into the coma, holding her hand and rubbing her feet, bathing her. We both worked to keep her comfortable as she continually ran a lowgrade temp. Darlene and I worked to move and set her comfortably in bed and to change her into comfortable pjs...things like that.
The last thing she said on Thursday evening was, "Deb, I did everything I wanted to do." I told her that was good. A few minutes later she sighed, "Oh, Deborah, this is all I want now." I said, "What, Sweetie? To be comfortable and rest?" and she smiled and said, "Yes," as she fluffed her pillows and made a comfy spot to sleep.
Elaine was a dear friend, a faithful and staunch supportive friend. She was somebody you could count on to come to your rescue at a moment's notice. She was a friend you could tell your secrets to and expect them to be kept. She shared everything with me with great generosity of heart and spirit....from her salads at dinners out to bequeathing me her little child/companion, her doggie, Larry. She was a caring friend. I loved that she could tell it like it was...."Deborah, you are looking too old with that white and grey in your hair....turn it back to blond!!" :]
Larry was the love of her heart. He was her constant little friend. He's a mini poodle with silver hair that she kept meticulously groomed in the old-fashioned "poodle cut." She spoiled him rotten. Larry doesn't like other people....growls at pretty much everyone....won't let anyone touch him or feed him....or take him out except Darlene and me....and slept and sat with Elaine every second. Larry never left her side. Stayed on her bed even after they took her away. The next morning I had to coax him out from under her bed. He bit me!@! Finally, I got him out and soothed and petted him. Fed him and told him it was okay. When I took him home, my little yorkie, Clara, (they'd met on previous occasions, though there never seemed to be any love lost between them! :[ ) met him quietly and they've been soooo good with each other since! A true shock to me!!! There has to have been some angelic intervention to all of this transition. Larry does not generally like people and other dogs.....yet, he follows me around now, always is sitting by my side and lays next to me in the bed. I think Elaine has had something to do with all this. What a gift she gave me. Larry was the single most important thing in her life....
I'm going to miss her so much. On this Wednesday, Elaine will be buried beside her mother and father in a cemetery in Brookline, Mass. at about 2PM. If you think of it...remind yourself of her....think of how you contributed to her "love---chemo---quilt," how you held her up in your prayers over this past 3 years, how sometimes she was in your thoughts and you were in hers, how you sent her notes and sweet cards and little gifts that she loved, and how she became your friend, too. Darlene and I are going to lunch and we're going to have a toast to Elaine. If you think of it....please have one too.
Thank you, dear friends, for all your love and support.
PS: Elaine's "Love Quilt" will be taken to California by her brother, Steven, to be given as a baby gift to her youngest neice, Tara's, first baby....a girl, who's expected some time this Summer. :]