Saying a final goodbye to someone you love is never easy. As a chemotherapy nurse, I frequently observe families struggling with this agonizing task. When my patients get sicker and their spirit slowly slips away, family members are wrought with fear and anxiety. They wonder if their loved one will hang on for just one more day, or if the time has come to let go.
I never imagined I would be in their position.
My big sister, Annie, had ringlets of fiery red hair and a spirited personality that drew people to her. But Annie was not a typical 31-year-old. She was profoundly physically and mentally retarded. Seemingly stuck in time, she never progressed beyond the level of a 9-month-old. She could never speak, wheel her own wheelchair, or feed herself. She communicated her emotions through laughing, kicking her legs, or gleefully bobbing her head. [Read more...]