This is a letter from one of my oldest and dearest friends that I received last night. It brought back so many memories of my own mom’s death – as well as an immense gratitude for the nurses who offer care when we need it the most.
“My mother died peacefully yesterday morning, Saturday July 10, in the Bristol Royal Infirmary (England) where we both worked many years ago. I was grateful to be at her side when she finally surrendered to whatever may come next. My brother, Simon, and I had taken turns sitting with her this week as she slowly drifted into unconsciousness; I will forever remember walking up and down the hill in the old part of the city from parking garage to hospital at strange hours of day and night, always with a host of seagulls wheeling and crying above, no matter the hour, never knowing how I would find her once back on the ward. A strange, and yet wonderful week.
I arrived home last Friday to find her much rallied from the most recent complications of her cancer; she was bright, composed and waiting for me, and until her physical discomfort became unbearable on Monday evening, we had the conversation of our lifetimes, amid the considerable hustle of a city hospital ward. The ward’s staff people were a joy beyond my imagination and so I still don’t have the words I want to describe the extraordinary quality of the past week: joy, compassion, humour, tenderness, peace, struggle, great love, sadness and interminable cups of tea.
If there was a soundtrack to this movie, after the seagull cries, it would be a woman asking “A little bit of sugar, a little bit of milk, and nice and strong, right love?” This was how they nourished us through the week…”
Nan Linsley was a remarkable woman in many ways, successful and competent to be sure – but most memorably, one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, with a grace, humor and gentleness that radiated from her very being. My $100 today goes to the nurses at the Bristol Royal Infirmary – who took such good care of Nan and her beloved Edward up until the end. Bevan, I’m holding all of you in my heart today.
And just to complete the circle of life, my darling friend Liz recently sent me this photo of her new baby girl, Kaya Ivette –born on June 6, my mother’s birthday! — what a miraculous new addition to the planet!