*Alice* was a very strong woman indeed. She was clever and talented and hugely compassionate. She was a founding member of a volunteer organization in Vancouver devoted to caring for those with disabilities. She had been a career civil servant and had been forced to retire in her early 50-s because of very ill-health.
Alice and I met a few years back when she was released from hospital after some infection or other had settled in on her refusing to leave on it's own. Alice had great Doctors, and knew her own treatment options backwards and forewards. Alice chose her own path, charting it with great care.
She never did anything without informed consent.
The disease ravaging Alice was merciless. She had a drug regime that was destroying her kidneys. She traded longevity for quality of life. Alice knew her days were dwindling but nothing prepared *me* for the day, not long ago, when during my visit she broke down and wept. I had no words of wisdom for her. All I could say was how difficult I knew it must be for her always being the strong one.
Alice had a longtime companion who was older than her. The companion did her best and they lived a good life. I knew it was trouble that day when Alice told me she was tired of it all. She wept and said she was sick of fighting, sick of being strong, sick of pretending everything was going to get better when she knew it was only going to be worse. She had just come home from a horrendous hospital stay in which 3 hell-nurses had sucked her hope away.
That of course is heresay. But Alice never lied to me about anything else and was always exceedingly kind and caring, even when her care was substandard. This last stay was different in some way. She had been vunerable for the first time in her life, in a way she was unused to, and these Nurses had gotten to her. They were trying to get her to do things for herself, telling her to get out of bed and do it herself. They told Alice over and over that she was capable.
A woman of such immense self-will, who had battled harder than most can imagine finally being tired and being rewarded with the "Do it yourself" routine. I have to tell you that even the dullest care-giver could tell at a glance that Alice had some huge problems to overcome. Her limbs were twisted and her body was bloated from kidney failure. Of course she could do it herself when she was well, but damnit she had not been well in years. And yet she HAD done it herself, day in and day out, getting only minimal support.
Alice thanked me when I left for listening. She asked me to pray for her. I heard two days later she was readmitted, hopefully not to the same floor. She passed on within a few days.
Alice, I know you are free now. I could never do what you did. I am not that gracious.
I know I did all I could for you, but I wish it was more and better.
This one hurts.
Farewell to another warrior.