When I went to go visit her Tuesday I knew it was to say goodbye for the last time.
She was intubated and sedated and looked only slightly like the same small, happy woman I had known.
Still, as I held her hand and I spoke to her, her head turned towards the sound of my voice and the arm I was hold moved back and forth. She was in there, and she could hear everything I said. I talked to her, I read to her, and I sat in silence sometimes too.
She is not a family member. She is a fairly young homeless woman. But she herself has no reachable family, and so the hospital has listed us as her contacts. The doctors have been calling us with updates, and with Big Tough Decisions.
I know she has children. And a brother. But I didn't know how to find them then and I still don't. No one does. So it was her nurses and practitioners who visited the hospital and gathered by her bedside. Over many days we told her how brave she was, how strong. How much we missed her. And in the end, that it was okay to let go.
Last night, a little after 9pm I got the phone call that she had passed away. Unfortunately none of us were there. One of my coworkers had just left. My wish is that no one would ever have to die alone. But at least she got to hear how special she was. At least she went knowing she was loved.
She was one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She really did smile through the suffering every single day. She never wished anyone any harm. In the end she reminded me of chapter 2 of Corinthians, the verses about a treasure in an old clay pot. Her body was so broken by the end but her mind and her spirit weren't damaged in the least.
It hurts a lot thinking that she isn't out there anymore, brightening the world with her smile. But it's so much better to know that she isn't hurting. Because the amount of suffering she endured was terrible, and it's now it's over.