The relationship that I developed with Mary through the Pre-med Hospice Program is one that I will never forget. For most of this school year, I looked forward to visiting Mary at Devon Manor. Every week, I would walk into her room and see her warm smile. She was so excited to have a visitor, especially a young visitor that could connect her to the world outside of Devon Manor. I would sit on the couch next to her and ask her how she was feeling, and every week she would respond saying she was feeling well. Next, I would ask her about the books she had been reading throughout the week—she loved reading. She loved to tell me about her books and she surprisingly seemed to remember every detail. As I got to know her, I began to bring her new books to read every week and she was so thankful and excited. She spent so much time reading that she believed that she had read every book with extra large print text available at the Devon Manor library. Mary also loved to talk about her sons. It was heart-warming to listen to her talk about her sons, as she was clearly so proud of them. I felt like I knew so much about her and family just from having an hour-long conversation with her once a week. Mary often used her life stories as an opportunity to give me life advice. It was clear that both her and I valued our time together. One of the most touching moments I had with her was when she referred to me as her friend. I felt so lucky to have established such a strong connection wish Mary in such as short period of time.
My last visit with her was very disheartening. I was shocked by how quickly she had deteriorated from the last time I saw her. She could no longer speak in coherent sentences. She was so angry and kept on kicking and hitting her nurse. She was crying and whining saying she wanted to go home and die. She told me to leave and never come back, which was very difficult for me to hear given the many meaningful conversations we had in the previous months. I try to forget this visit and focus on all of the good times we spent together.
The most important thing that my hospice work has taught me is how much I value personal relationships. In whatever career I choose to pursue in the future, I know that I would enjoy the opportunity to build relationships with others—whether that means building relationships with clients, patients etc. Surprisingly, hospice work has steered me away from wanting to pursue a career in medicine. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a surgeon. But, after experiencing this program, as well as shadowing an orthopedic surgeon and realizing that he never really had the opportunity to build relationships with patients, I came to the realization that medicine may not be a career that I want to pursue. Another thing that deterred me from a career in medicine is how quickly I became attached to Mary. I think I would have trouble successfully achieving the balance between looking at my patients from an objective point of view and expressing emotion and sympathy for my patients. Mary’s passing affected me more than I ever thought it would—I am not sure how long it will take to recover from mourning, but the relationship I built with her is one that I will value and remember forever.