Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Three hours

rain, heavy at times, humid, temps 25

We spent the morning with Jacques and Louise at the Granby Hospital. Funny, but as soon as we walked through the door into the Palliative Care wing we could feel a peace. Not necessarily a personal peace, but it felt like a sigh. The colours were warm and muted, there was no rush, no bright lights and hubbub. Just calm.

We found Jacques' room. He was asleep. Louise had been there earlier and had gone home for a few minutes. It was just past 9am. Jacques woke up, we sat down, and except for a few trips down to the nearby 'living room' for quiet talks with Louise, we were with Jacques for three hours.

We'd fully expected he'd only be able to stand us for 20 minutes. Indeed, he made it clear he'd tell us when he was getting too tired. We were beyond thrilled when the visit just went on - like a really fine dinner party no one wants to end. Oddly, when Louise (his partner) Michael and I left so he could be bathed - we nipped down to the cafeteria - the priest arrived. And gave Jacques the last rites. When we returned Jacques told us about it. And told the priest that he was born, he was about to die, and he was a peace with that and everything that happened between. But the details were none of the priests business. Apparently the priest laughed and agreed. And said as long as Jacques was at peace, so was he.

But I must say, it gave us all a bit of a turn to hear he'd been given the last rites. Louise and I left the guys alone, and went to the lounge to talk. She's amazing...trying to help Jacques do what he needs to do, and not bring her own fears into it. Time for that later, she said.

And this is where One Day at a Time becomes so much more than a cliche (if it ever was one).

Eventually Jacques remarkable energy waned and it was time to leave. We promised to send postcards from British Columbia. Louise said jacques' only regret is that he never saw the coast of British Columbia. jacques echoed that a few minutes later - and paused...then admitted if that was his only regret it wasn't too bad.

We kissed goodbye, and told each other 'I love you.' And made it out into the hall before bursting into tears.

It was a beautiful three hours.


John said...

Jacques sounds like quite the inspiration! Thanks for sharing.


Alix said...

Jacques ability to leave this life with grace and love is a testament to how he lived it. I love the priest's reaction. That's the goal of being a good steward of God; to support your flock with what they need, not what you think they need. Well done on all sides.

Aimee said...

I feel peaceful and calm now too after a rushed and stress-filled day. What a wonderful testament to your friend that you captured those moments so well as to spread that peace to others.

PolioQuad said...

Move through stillness,
Beyond motion,
Be pulled by Peace,
Let the sacred grab you.

Susan said...

How fine to be able to have a meaningful visit with your friend and his partner at such an important time. He knows you love him; you know you'll miss him. And you had time to say goodbye. That's an enviable thing.

A. Wright said...

So often we lose friends without warning and never have the time to say what we want to say, and to have that last goodbye and hug. This was a blessing for all of you, but so very, very hard.

Thank you for sharing your experience and letting us share in the blessing of your time with you friend.

Sandra Dumais said...

Wow. Louise, your friends are all so lucky to have you and Michael! What a thought inspiring post.

lil Gluckstern said...

This is lovely and painful, and above all, an ode to your friends and your relationship. I wish you all peace.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all,

Thank you once again, for your thoughts and support. Quite right, so often the end comes too suddenly to say goodbye, and to really say things that matter. This was honestly a lovely, and comforting, time.