I was staying in hostel as part of my PUC( Pre-University Course). Once in two weeks, on Sunday we get a few hours outing time, where we can go out of campus at around 12 PM and report back in the campus by 8 PM the same day. Other weeks parents and family can come to meet the students for an hour. Every week my parents used to come to meet me at the hostel. It was the time where I could see happiness on their faces, this time the case was different.
“Swathi is diagnosed with blood cancer, doctors are saying that she is only left with few more months” said my dad. The news was not syncing in, she was my best friend. The thought of loosing her itself was so tough on me, I could hardly breathe, my energy drained to the smallest percentage, I was drowned in sweat in no time.
Next week was the week of outing, I requested my parents to take me home so that I can see her. One week felt so long, I was waiting so much to meet her. My heart was pounding so high as the time approached.
“It is so painful, I prefer dying than going through the therapies, not able to bear this anymore” – I can never forget these words uttered by my best friend. She was so lean, with no hair as her chemotherapy sessions have commenced, it was unbearable to see her and her parents going through that pain.
I’ve hold her hand in mine, and said “everything is going to be fine, don’t think about anything”. I was not fooling her, she is going through the stress of handling her own condition and it is very important to ease such person with comforting words. I tried to divert her attention by talking about our school, and some of our common friends.. “I don’t know where my bicycle is … “ said she, hearing to this I asked her dad where it was ? Because now she is staying at her aunt’s place close to the hospital and not at her own home. I requested him to take me to their house so that I can bring her bicycle here. We washed the bicycle, decorated it a bit, we took it for her, she felt so happy seeing her bicycle.
“I want to eat Indian gooseberry. Can you get it next time you come to meet me ?” – for those of you who doesn’t know how it looks I am attaching a picture.
It feels sour when we bite into it, turns slightly bitter later on and has various health benefits as well. I requested her that I would be back in half an hour, went home took some of those gooseberries for her. After seeing those her expression was priceless. I have also requested my sister to take few of those everyday for Swathi so that she can have as many as she wants. The next time I went to meet her, she was all in smiles for that small gesture of my sister.
Week after week, I kept visiting her though that meant spending only couple of hours with her due to travel constraints etc. There were many small things like these over a period of two months that made me feel how petty things can make the most important memories for us. She used to share a lot about her visits to hospital, doctors, her chemotherapy sessions, some times I wondered if she knew she was going to die, but I never dared to ask her.
At the time when she left this world, believe me she was holding a couple of gooseberries in her hand. After she passed away her parents needed me the most, whenever I met them, they were happy to see their daughter in me. I am so happy to serve that family, even today our relationship is very much similar. I dream of her at times, and feel blessed to have a friend like her.
Caring for someone who is in the last days of their life is very challenging. It can be due to natural process of our body aging or an ailment, when the care has to be given at home it calls for different type of challenges. It is the last opportunity we have to serve someone who did so much for us, who mean a lot, whom we are definitely going to miss. We should keep in mind certain facts that can help us through.
- Don’t see them as burden, in fact no one wants to be a burden on another. It is just that they are in need of help now, we may be in the same position tomorrow or little later.
- Ask questions to engage them in conversations. Secret stories, mischievous instances , it can be anything, don’t ever make them feel lonely or as if they are not so important any more.
- Crack jokes and laugh a lot. Laughter can make us forget a lot of pain.
- Be kind, not only to the person who needs us, but ourselves too. It can become very frustrating at times, do not ever show the frustration before them. If you feel so, take a stroll down the road or relax yourself for sometime before resuming back to them.
- When the time is tough, give the time a tough challenge. There is nothing called “dirty” task. It can be giving a bath, cleaning their bed, do it with love, because when there is love care-giving comes naturally.
All of us are part of this world for a very less time, today it may be someone else, our time may not be much farther. Always have patience and love, those are two things that would make us feel really good to have been caring for someone in need.