I got some bad news last Thursday. One of my patients died. She was only 26 years old. For the sake of her privacy (and HIPAA) we'll call her "R".
I am terrible at names, I always have been. So when Paige told me what had happened I instantly searched my mind to try and picture her face. D Lo (my boss, aka Dr. L) instantly searched online for her obituary and we all read it together. R's entire family comes to our office, Mom, Dad, brother, Aunt, Uncle...the works. After seeing her picture on the obituary I remembered who she was. She was a massage therapist, she had actually given me her number for massages. I never called her because my bf Sarah is a massage therapist, but she offered it to me so I didn't want to be rude. During her cleanings we always talked about massages and the importance of them, and I felt like we had a lot that we could talk about.
I'm 26, so her death put things in perspective really quickly. She hadn't even started her life yet. She had never lived on her own, never been married, never graduated college...she had so much more life to live. She was really only getting started.
Her family has had a rough time recently. Her Dad walked out on her Mom (and obviously their family too), they lost the house, they both have a slew of health problems, her brother is siding with her dad, and her fiance just had broken up with her. She had some demons of her own, so unfortunately we all assumed suicide. But, she ended up going in for surgery on a weekend, came home on Monday, and died on Tuesday. They doctors still don't know the cause of death, they're doing on autopsy. So, so sad.
R's poor Mom. She depended on R for half of their apartment rent, and so she is left in an even worse financial situation. Her Mom didn't even have money for the funeral, friends and family had to chip in. That's one of the worst parts about death, dealing with everything afterwards. Here you are, beside yourself, and all the money you have to spend is ridiculous. I will never forget how angry I felt sitting in the room with my Mom and little brothers picking out the coffin for my Dad. The stupid salesman selling the coffins was totally taking advantage of my Mom. All she wanted was the best for my Dad, and all he wanted to do was make the best commission. It's simply terrible, I honestly don't know how those people sleep at night. I can't even imagine how R's Mom felt going through all those details.
Her Aunt, we'll call her "L" came in on Friday for her cleaning. I knew DLo was going to ask her about it. She gave us a lot of details, and it was obvious she was trying to keep it together. It was a little awkward after he left, and I didn't really know what to say to her. L turned to me and asked if we were almost done, I assured her we were. After a few minutes of awkward silence she said, "I wasn't ready to talk about R yet", and then instantly burst into tears. I did my best to soothe her and told her I could empathize with losing my Dad recently. She looked at me with a sigh of relief and didn't stop talking until the end of the appointment.
Like I've said before, we're in the club, the dead club. The terrible club that no one wants to be apart of. That awful/empathetic feeling, when you know exactly how someone is feeling when they lose a loved one, and you know there's nothing that you can do or say to make it better. It's basically the suckiest club ever.
She went on to tell me how even though her dad was 78 and had Alzheimer's disease, losing him was emotionally devastating. That's the best way I've ever heard anyone describe the feeling, emotionally devastating. After that we were talking and crying together for the rest of the appointment. I was wiping her tears and cleaning her teeth all at the same time. Even though I complain about a lot of my high maintenance patients, I care about a lot of them too. It's nice being back at an office that appreciates me too.
As I walked her up to the front desk, I gave her a hug and we shared some last few words and tears. I told her I would be praying for her and her family, and she thanked me for being so kind. DLo rushed up to the front after he heard me dismissing her, and told her to wait for a minute. He rushed back with what appeared to be a check, it was hard to tell. He put it in an envelope, and told her this was for R's Mom (L's sister). My heart melted a little bit. Even though there are some days I want to light my boss on fire, I had never been more proud to work for such a great person.
I haven't been able to get their family out of my mind for the past few days. I often wondered why Heavenly Father chooses to take some of his children back to return to him. Why would he take"R" back? Why would he take my Dad away from me? I like to think because they're so much happier and healthier back with him. They're not suffering anymore, they're finally happy and healthy again. Why is it fair that so many people who don't appreciate their family members get to keep them? Why do so many people that have healthy bodies and abuse them so much get to keep them? It honestly doesn't make sense, and DEFINITELY doesn't seem fair. The only thing that does make sense to me is that Heavenly Father knows what he's doing. That he really does have a plan, and that he's not intentionally making us sad, and doesn't really want us to struggle. There have been many times where I've been the one comforting others, when I myself think I am in need of comforting! The only thing I can trust in is that, I know the gospel is true, and I know we will see them again.
I wish it didn't hurt so bad, and I wish others didn't have to hurt so badly...but the only thing that makes me happy is to know that it won't always be like this. So please hold your loved ones a little closer tonight, and say a little prayer for those who don't have theirs so near. Rest in peace, R, you are missed and loved by so many...