One of the hardest things about my job is that I get SO attached to my patients.
I walk their journey with them, and most times, the outcome is good. And then, sometimes, the coin is flipped.
Barbara would come in twice a week on the pretense of having her blood pressure taken - when in actuality, she just really loved coming in to see all of us. And she really brightened our day when she came in. When Jim was walking his journey, she was my cheer-leader, always sending up a prayer and ready with a hug any time I needed one. I am sure she knows how much she helped me get through that most difficult time.
I have on my work desk a little praying bear whose name is Hope. And when the time came when management told us we could only keep one personal item at our workspace, I insisted on keeping two - my current picture of Jerry, and Hope the Bear because it was a heart-felt gift from Barbara when she knew I was at my lowest threshold of strength.
Barbara was SO amazing! She became ill not long after my Jimmy passed away, and was eventually diagnosed with Lymphoma. And she fought a very brave fight right up to the end. At one point, we thought she was winning this battle, even though the statistical odds were so stacked up against her. She was feeling well enough to come in like old times for a blood pressure check and was smothered with hugs from all of us.
Some of our patients need love, while others share their love. Barbara was such a beautiful lady with the purest of hearts. And I really hate that I received this news on a Monday - the busiest of days, when I am forced to keep going and pretend I am cheerful, when inside, I really just want to lock myself in a restroom and cry for my loss.
My last conversation with her was on June 2. She called to say she wasn't doing so well, and was going to spend some time in the ICU. And instead of dwelling on her own issues, she asked me how my baby is doing. And when I told her that he is doing very well these days, she sounded so happy to hear that. And then she said "Can I ask you a question? You don't have to answer if you don't want to, if it's too hard for you"
I said "Of course you can ask me a question, Barbara."
"We're coming up on the one year anniversary of losing Jim, aren't we? How are YOU doing?"
My response was "Well, we've just passed that anniversary at the end of March. But we got through it. I have wonderful friends and family, and I am very blessed."
She apologized for missing the date, and I said she had her own battles to fight, and I would never feel slighted if she forgot such things. And I told her to hang in there and to know that I love her.
The hard thing is, I had Friday off, and thought "Hey! I could go visit Barbara today!" But it just never happened.
And just yesterday, I FINALLY found the perfect gift at the Art Fair to give to her - it is a beautiful poem:
But she does know that she was and will always be in my heart and in my thoughts. I am very blessed to have had my life touched by such a wonderful lady. And I can just imagine, once she is finished hugging all of the loved ones she knows up in heaven, that she is going to stop and say "So now which of you Angels is my Brenda's Jim? I need a hug from you too, Buster!"