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
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.