An Unexpected Friend

One of my most meaningful hospice relationships formed about halfway through my experience as a volunteer this past year. It was a pretty slow day so I was helping with random office work behind the front desk during the first half of my shift. As I was doing office work with one of the other volunteers, one of the social workers came up to us and asked if one of us would be able to feed a patient. At first, we both looked at each other waiting for the other to volunteer, but neither did, so I finally offered to given my past experience feeding patients.

The social worker then assured me that this particular patient was extremely kind. She made sure to let me know that her hearing and sight were not very sharp so I needed to talk loud and get up close for her to see me. When I entered the room, she greeted me calling me something endearing which relaxed the bit of nerves I had. I then began to chat with her between bites of food I fed her. After she was satisfied, I went to take her tray out of the room and she asked where I was going. I responded that I was just taking her tray out and I would be right back.

When I returned, I asked if she needed anything else and she gave me a hesitant no. From that, I perceived that she wanted some company so I offered to sit and chat some more with her which she delightfully accepted. We then began to talk about Pittsburgh, where I was from, where she was from, family, and where my favorite places to go in Pittsburgh were and why. When she noticed my striped shirt, she began to tell me about the striped shirts she used to wear when she was younger just like mine and we both agreed that we love stripes. After talking for about an hour, her nurse came in and told her that her daughter was on her way over to visit her and should arrive in about 30 minutes. My shift ended in an hour so I thought it would work out perfectly; her daughter would come 30 minutes before I had to leave so she would not be alone.

Thirty minutes passed and her daughter still had not come into the unit. I was starting to contemplate in my mind if I should stay past the end of my shift and wait with her until her daughter arrived. I wanted to stay, but I had plans to meet a friend to study once I got back from the hospice, so I was unable to. Once 4 o’clock rolled around, I told her I had to get going and asked if she needed anything before I left to which she responded, “Just a hug”. I gladly gave her a hug and was on my way out feeling guilty for leaving and hoping her daughter would arrive soon.

A week later, I returned to the hospice hopeful she would still be there and I could sit in her room and talk to her my whole shift, but upon my arrival, I saw the bed she laid in just the week before was neatly made and ready for another patient. When I first saw she was gone, my heart sunk and tears began to well up in my eyes, but I comforted myself with the assurance that I would see her again someday.