6:45 P.M. You smile as I enter the room to check on you for the hour. You mumble that you’re not in pain, but I see the pain on your face as I reposition you. I explain that my shift is ending and titrate your morphine drip. I turn off the light on my way out and ask if there is anything else I can do to make you comfortable. You say there isn’t, and wish me a good evening. I leave, silently praying for you on my way home.

7:00 A.M. You are not awake this morning, like usual, but at least you are not in pain. Today is Sunday. Your family will visit. We bathe you, during which you wake briefly. You decline food and water for the fourth day in a row. I can see you are getting more tired and weaker. You are ready, but your son is due home from overseas, and you are waiting to say goodbye.

12:00 P.M. Family come and go. You wake for brief moments during their presence. Your son has not come. I provide comfort how I can, treating your fever and pain, repositioning pillows. I offer words of comfort that seem to fall flat, though you don’t say so.

5:30 P.M. I promised you a while back that I wouldn’t let you be uncomfortable. You have fought so hard already–fought for our country, fought through cancer treatments, and now fighting for every breath. You deserve all the comfort that I can provide. I titrate your morphine again; I know you are in pain. I see you look past me. Your son is here. I feel the tension in your hand release. This is what you are waiting for. It’s time to let go. So, I let go.

1:00 A.M. I’m awake. News of your passing will reach me on my next shift, but I already know that you are in a better place–free of pain and breathing easy. I am happy that you left this earth with a loved one by your side. I am thankful that I met you, and for your service to our country. Thank you for your unfailing kindness to me until the very end.

May you rest in peace, sweet friend,

Love, a nurse.

Thank you, hospice nurses, for providing care with such dignity and compassion to patients and families! It takes a special heart to care for these patients and their loved ones. You are truly appreciated!

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