I returned after a leave of absence to my RN Hospice Saturday - Sunday weekend rotation. I got off of elevator at 6:45 pm, noticing how lovely the sun was, shining through the horizontal blinds in quietly empty rooms.
The last room on the left, was quiet and darkened, passing by, I almost missed seeing a very little lady sitting on the bed. Her hair hung in two very long white braids and she was clothed in a long white nightgown covering her arms and legs.
The nursing report I received was very rushed, I was going to be short-staffed and the only nurse from 7:00pm until 7:00am. I was teamed with several nurses aides who I could rely on. The patients that night were resting well.
Prioritizing my patients by their needs, and by the nursing report received much earlier, I realized with panic I had not assessed the lady with the long braids who resided on the empty hall.
I entered her room to find the light from sun was a brilliant orange slice, dividing the room, the bottom was dark as pitch, the middle was glaringly brilliant exposing the top of the bed and illuminating all the corners of the room, and still, apparently not moving in 3 hours sat the very elderly lady, hands folded, quiet and calm.
I rushed in and apologized, asking her, practically begging her to tell me what I could do for her. How was she, could I get her water, tuck her into bed .. She patted the bed and laughed quietly and said,
"Oh no honey, now just come sit here," patting the bed beside her.
So, I sat and I noticed how old and tiny she was and how she was so extremely calm. All the while she spoke she had this little laugh, and this is what she said: "Now sit here and just you be quiet now, cause that is why I am here, to tell you, I am the grandma, and I AM the grandma. That little girl you lost, well now she is in heaven with me."
I tried to stand up, I said, "Whoa, wait a minute here, you don't, know what you are saying. You don't know me, you have now idea what you are saying, now come on and go to bed and go to sleep".
I was startled and tried to hide my annoyance at her bold statement. She allowed me to tuck her into bed, pulling the covers up to her neck she said,
"That's all right now, come sit just one minute, I told you what I had to say, and me.. I had 11 children and my son, he died, it broke me. Now you listen, and I'm telling you, I will be in heaven and just rock that baby for you until you get there. She will know you and we will just be there waiting".
I left the room, the sun still a laser of gold slicing the room in half.
I walked past her door many times that night, I wondered how she could speak to me in her tone, what she said.. How could she know I had recently had a miscarriage. It was late-term and devastating for me. All night She remained sitting against the pillows, quiet and requiring nothing each time I asked.
The next night I returned to the unit. I passed her room, it was empty like the others. The nurses laughed at me when I asked about the elderly lady with the braids around the corner hallway. They tried to convince me, no one was in that room for weeks. I could not find a chart or a med list or ID for that patient or room.