The other night I left Holly with her caregiver Janet and went out for dinner by myself. When I got back at 8, she was sitting on her bedside commode. Plainly, she was distressed, but she couldn’t say what was wrong. Janet and I comforted her, and after ten minutes or so we got her up and into bed. We lay her carefully on her side to keep the pressure sore on her tailbone from being aggravated.
I tiptoed away, heading upstairs to the refuge of my own room. Then Janet summoned me back. “Holly’s calling for you,” she said. So I kneeled down next to her bed, and she made a valiant attempt to say something. As so often happened, the words in her mind kept wanting to come out, but she couldn’t complete the connection. I struggled to make a guess at the subject matter. Her voice was so whispery, so indistinct, yet so insistent.
She seemed to have a very important message to convey. Could she be trying to say good-bye to me? I leaned closer, straining to understand. What if these were the last words she ever uttered? Would I have to spend the rest of my life wondering what they were?
I soothed her, in case she needed my permission: “Honey, you are on a journey of your own, and I want you to know that whatever happens to you–whatever–it will be all right for the rest of us. I will be all right, and so will everybody else. Whatever happens. We’ll be okay.”
I had voiced this sentiment before. But I thought she needed to hear it now. At least, I needed to say it now.
Finally, she summoned up the wherewithal to speak out, to express what she wanted, or what she feared, or what she hoped for, at this fragile moment in time.
She said: “We need more butter.”
I patted her on the shoulder and reassured her, “I’m going shopping in the morning, honey.”
She closed her eyes, and I crept back out of the room.