My walk with my friend Alison
When I visited my friend Alison at Sobell House we took a 'walk' from her room via the gardens. The weather outside was lovely. Between us, we'd achieved getting her and her oxygen tank into a wheelchair and off we'd set! She was on fine form and up for anything. (Fortunate, considering my rather erratic wheelchair-driving style!)
It was Spring-time: so there were snowdrops and crocuses agogo. But there was also a highly-scented shrub that neither of us knew the name of and that was the one that gave us most pause for thought/discussion/appreciation. I wafted its buds under Alison's nose. She/we really enjoyed it... but we got no greater insight into what it actually IS! (Note to self: must Google that.)
And so it was that Alison and I chatted our way round the gardens before we set off to look at other views and to comment on golfers visible in the distance. We just talked, about this and that and nothing in particular: just as we always have done during the past 33 years of our friendship. Alison's approaching death.....from a disease that Medicine cannot yet totallyZAP.....was one of the topics of our conversation but not the ONLY one. Not by a long way! And, when we got back indoors after our 'walk', she made me go into the Chapel to play the piano. That's where we chuckled a lot about times in years-gone-by when she and I and other friends had improvised silly music together. Buddy lovely!
Alison was SO happy and well-cared-for in Sobell House, both when she attended the Day Centre and after she became a Resident (in-patient.) As it happens, I went with her one day last year to the Day Centre and so I saw/felt for myself why she enjoyed that so much. REALLY enjoyed it!
I also know what the months and weeks of her last illness could have been like. My husband died a few years ago and he chose to stay/be at home in his final weeks of life. I was happy to support his decision: don't get me wrong. But now I know how very much better it would have been for both of us if he had taken up the offer he was given of going into our local Hospice. His final weeks, days and hours would have been SO much easier for us both. He worried about me, I worried about him:(there was a District Nurse and/or a sweet lass who tackled stuff like laundry for half an hour a day during the fortnight before he died, but mostly his care was up to me.) Pete's friends came to visit him which was lovely, of course, but also meant that I was up and down all the time to make cups of tea and see them in and out, answer the 'phone etc. I have never been so totally exhausted. Pete worried about me just at the time when he needed NOT to worry about anything.
I now know, because of my friend Alison's weeks of being so wonderfully looked-after in Sobell House, that there is another, MUCH better way for a person to be cared-for while they and their loved ones are dealing with the matter of dying and loss. Every bit and particle ofLIFE is cared-for! It's a hospital with knobs on: the truly care-full sort. But what resonates most with me is that in Sobell House no one ever needs to feel 'alone' OR that there is anything at all to fear either from dying or from Death.
Alison died peacefully on Feb. 14th. I already miss her a great deal. I will always miss her enormously. But the chief silver-lining is that she that she was truly cared-for by all the folk at Sobell House.
With huge appreciation and encouragement-onwards