The consultant physician at the hospital phoned my hubby yesterday afternoon to say that Dad had taken a turn for the worse. After visiting him briefly, he asked me if I would like to go in in the evening as it may be the last chance. After our evening meal we went, and stayed from about 8 p.m. until 11.50 when he quietly passed away.
His breathing was laboured and obviously taking a great deal of effort, despite the oxygen. He didn't speak at all, and to start with, lay with half closed eyes, but about half way through they moved him as he was obviously experiencing some discomfort, and after that his eyes were open until the end, fixed firmly on mine. I held his hand and stroked him throughout, speaking words of love, and reminding him of all the lovely times we'd had together, and thanking him for being such a wonderful Dad and teaching me so much, and sharing so much with me. During this time the nurse gave him a couple of injections - a further dose of morphine, and something to calm the breathing, after which his breathing became quieter and shallower, until it eventually stopped, and he slipped away. I know he was aware of us, and I know that sound is the last thing to go, and I know that he was carried along by our loving words.
The staff were absolutely amazing, quite phenomenal. We have witnessed how they treated all the old gentlemen in that bay on the ward, all gradually progressing towards the end - with dignity and respect, and with such gentleness and patience. They were so sweet with us, too. The ward had been closed except for emergency visiting because an infection had broken out, so we had to wear gloves and aprons (I hated not being able to have skin-to-skin contact with him) and they were happy for us to stay as long as we wanted, and when the end came, the three of them were standing at the end of his bed, and then they said they'd leave us alone with him for a bit. When we were ready they returned and were so sweet and kind with us, and before we left, one of them took us into the day room and gave us a booklet from the Bereavement Office, and said that anything we wanted to know, we could phone the ward any time and they would help.
I am so glad to have had the privilege of being there at his side as he passed, witnessing one of the great mysteries of the universe, happy that he did not have to make this transition alone.