In the book I mention that after selling my café and property I spent a couple of months helping my sister Marie nurse her husband Ralph through his terminal brain cancer. I would like to expound on that experience as it was so life-changing.
‘Ahhh, so that’s it. It wasn’t the time , it was the date!’ I thought.
We returned to our reverie when a thought entered my head. I was remembering Christ’s last words as he was dying on the cross, “It is finished” and for some reason I had the urge to say that phrase at the time of Ralph’s passing, but I didn’t share this with Marie. Another couple of hours passed and as it neared 11 o’clock I wondered if he would pass at 11:11. He breathing had become erratic again, building up then stopping for a few seconds, us wondering if it was his last, then him taking a big breath and starting the sequence all over again.
The palliative care nurse usually came at 11:30 every day to change the morphine syringe driver when it ran out. When it got low it would start to beep more frequently until it became a constant “beeeeeeep” when it ran out. We knew it wasn’t long now and hoped the nurse was late because we did want any interruptions during this sacred time, and sure enough no one came. The constant beep from the syringe driver caused Marie to stand up to turn it off. As she did so, she declared, “It is finished”. Now, remember that I had not shared my thought with her about saying that, and I also thought it was strange that she didn’t say, “It’s finished” or “It’s empty”, but she said, “It is finished.”
As if on cue, after she uttered those words, Ralph’s breathing suddenly changed and I called out to Marie. She quickly sat back down and we held his hands, watching him take his last breaths. It was such a beautiful, sacred moment that I will never forget. We sat with him, wishing him bon-voyage through our tears. The time of his death was 11:38 (3+8=11) on the 11th May. The nurse came and declared his death and when she left, Marie and I carefully and lovingly washed and dressed him.
We spent the next week preparing his funeral and it was a beautiful send-off and tribute to him. To say that the whole experience bonded Marie and I together is a gross understatement and we both feel privileged to be in each other’s lives as soul sisters.