By client support volunteer Mary Ellen Carey
At our first meeting, Mary was specific about the role she wished The Dorothy Ley Hospice volunteer to play. She wanted me to be in the house in case she needed assistance and to provide help preparing an evening meal for her husband and son. As this was her first experience with volunteers from the Hospice, she was hesitant about a personal relationship.
March came and went with bi-weekly visits. Then one day Mary said, "Hurry up with those vegetables, I don't want you wasting time in the kitchen when you can be in here spending time with me." It was then I realized I was making progress in our relationship. From that day on, we shared so much and discovered so many similarities in our lives: our age, temperament, values, faith, tradition, love of travel.
As our relationship grew, so did Mary's dependence on people: to move, to eat, to communicate. At the same time, her determination to live and to manage her circumstances also grew stronger. Over these months, we journeyed together. She awarded me the special project of organizing the family photos, going back 20 years. We laughed and sometimes cried, for there were many stories to tell and much grieving to be done.
In the summer, we took time to sit outside in the sun and pray together. As summer waned, so did her spirit. My spirit too was stricken as I acknowledged that my first client, now my friend, was moving closer to her death.
Seven days before she died, Mary asked me to help her plan her funeral and we did. Then I received the gift of lifting her into death with her husband, brother and friend. What a privilege and what an honour to have journeyed with this incredible woman for nine months and then to complete that journey by participating in such an intimate act. What a gift I gave to myself.