“My first end-of-life patient was a 97-year-old man. He had a…

“My first end-of-life patient was a 97-year-old man. He had a much younger girlfriend; she was seventy-four. But they loved each other so much. Back when their spouses were still alive, the four of them had been great friends. They would double date together. And when their spouses passed away, the two of them became a thing. Every day she would come over for lunch. I’d always cook a little meal for them. I’d prepare the table; I’d lay out my little candles and my little flowers. As soon as she arrived I’d put on music and dim the lights, then I’d leave the room and go wait in the bedroom. They would cuddle and snuggle. And the beauty of it was, even though he couldn’t control his fluids at that point, she never minded the smell. Her love for him was so great that they would still kiss and all that good stuff. When the doctors said that it was time for him to go to hospice, he said he didn’t want to go. He told them that he wanted to come back home and die with me. I was with him in the end. My patients never die alone. Never, ever. One week after his passing I was hired by his girlfriend’s family. She had terminal Alzheimer’s, and I ended up staying with her for seven years. I fell in love with her. We were family, just family. She used to be a tap dancer. We’d sing together. And if she didn’t feel like singing, I’d sing. Even near the end, she always knew when something was wrong with me. When I wasn’t being the Gabby that she knew, she would always know. When the doctors said it was time for her to go to hospice, her children said: ‘We want her to die with Gabby.’ In the final days she wouldn’t eat, she’d lock her jaw. But she would always eat for me. One night I could see the fright in her eyes, and I knew it was time. My patients never die alone. Never, ever. So I climbed under the covers with her. And she passed away in my arms.”

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