I am so grateful I get to witness miracles on a daily basis. And they usually happen when I have no expectations. Last night as I was leaving a facility, the Hospice RN asked if I had played for a patient of ours who was transitioning. I replied I had not and then explained, I no longer played for him since he had moved into a 3 patient room with a roommate who was so unpleasant whenever I came into the room it made it impossible to play harp and promote relaxation and peace. Typically, what would happen would be that I would knock and enter the room with my harp. The unpleasant roommate (let’s call him UR) would snarl, “I don’t want what you’re selling!” I would smile and say, “I’m not selling anything and I’m here to play for your friend over there and you’re welcome to listen.”
He would shout, “I don’t want to listen, I’m sick of all you people.” And would turn on or turn up his TV to an ear-splitting level. No amount of persuasion or negotiating could get him to turn his TV down or off. It was impossible to play over the noise so I finally just gave up and avoided that room altogether. UR never left the room for meals either so he couldn’t be worked around. It was unfortunate because, before our patient had been moved into that toxic environment, I had played for him successfully for months.
Back to the present. The RN reminded me, “You know, our patient (OP) is transitioning”. I sighed and told her I did know that and I would go in there and see what I could do but I wasn’t hopeful because of the unpleasant roommate situation. She understood my dilemma.
I knocked on the patient’s door and was welcomed with “Come in!” I opened the door and was surprised the TV was not on and UR was sitting up in this recliner and dressed. I greeted him and asked if he had eaten dinner yet, as it was 5:30. He said he had eaten something although it wasn’t very good. There wasn’t a trace of hostility in his voice and he was actually responding almost pleasantly to my conversation. Unbelievable. I had the harp with me and he may have remembered me from our past encounters. I told him, “I’m going to sit with OP and play quietly by his bedside. I will try and not disturb you”. He nodded. I waited for the TV to be turned on as was typical, but it didn’t happen. I was allowed to play quietly by OP’s bedside while he slept and the room remained silent except for the harp and the soft white noise of the oxygen equipment. After awhile, some visitors came in to visit with UR and I heard him tell them that his roommate was dying and to “Keep it down”. They encouraged him to come with them to an activity in the patient lounge area and he agreed. I had never known UR to leave that room in the past, for any reason.
I played all of OP’s favorite hymns and the song his wife had asked me to play for him before she died earlier that year which was their favorite: Clare De Lune. I told OP, “Your wife is waiting for you. You can go with her whenever you are ready.” I’m confident OP’s wife was with us at that moment patiently waiting for him to take her hand and cross over to be with her. OP passed the next morning, peacefully.
When I shared this story with my supervisor the next morning after hearing OP had died she sent me this note:
“Thank-you for the intuitive sense that you needed to play the harp for him. I’m sure that it meant a lot to him especially if you played “Stairway to Heaven”. You are phenomenal and I’m so glad that you were there yesterday. In hospice, there are no coincidences but rather small miracles and whisperings from Heavenly Father. Heidi, there is a reason that you are with our hospice because you are a gift sent to us!! So thank-you again for the amazing talent that you provide for the patients!”
For all the employee reviews I have ever received (both the glowing and the not so good ones) over a 30+ year career, this is one I will always cherish for making me feel truly valued. Bless you, D!