|Beautiful BC Magazine, 1997|
My mother asked me what could she do to help around the house while I was at the hospital. I suggested that she phone the Protection Island Lions Club and ask them to pick up the hospital bed and equipment that they had so generously lent us. We had it set up in our bedroom looking out to the Gary Oaks, the water where sea lions were belching and barking and where he could watch Anna hummingbirds at his feeder. Someone who had come to the island for weekends and had loved the island, left a bequest to be used for medical equipment for islanders. We benefited with a walker, bathtub chair, wheelchair and a brand new never-been-used hospital bed. Now that Mark is in palliative care, we won’t be needing them.
I couldn’t bring myself to phone the Lions Club. If I did, I would burst into wracking sobs. It’s when I tell someone what is happening with Mark that I fall to pieces. So I casually suggested that she could phone them and, while I was away, the items could magically disappear and I wouldn’t have to think about what they represented.
The palliative care unit at the NRGH is staffed with such caring people. Many are volunteers. They make a point of reaching out to let you know they care. I suspect they all are there because they have lived through this experience. They all have this look in their eyes. Hard to describe, but their eyes all have the depth of knowing.
Mark’s room is large and his bed looks out onto a peaceful courtyard with greenery. Next to his bed is a large comfortable Morris recliner-style chair. They have a kitchen we can use, a quiet room, a lounge, even a laundry. I noticed a large, over a foot high, quartz crystal mounted on a ledge in a nook in the hallway. On a discreet sign next to it is written something along the lines ‘this light shines when we lose someone‘. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant until I saw a sobbing woman rushing to a quiet dark corner in the lounge and a few minutes later the crystal shone.
Tonight Mike, a neighbour, phoned and offered to arrange the removal of the hospital bed while I was at the hospital tomorrow. I gratefully accepted. During dinner I mentioned this to my mother asking if she had mentioned the bed to Mike’s wife. She teared up and confessed she had. ‘I couldn’t do it. Taking the bed away would mean we never expect Mark to come back home.’
‘I know, but looking at the empty hospital bed everyday, reminds me of the same thing’.