This morning I received news of a death that hit me really hard – probably unusually so for the short time and circumstances in which I knew her. The CNA who has been coming to work with Sarah sometimes five nights a week for the past couple of months – who was just here last night and was supposed to be back again tonight – died unexpectedly sometime after her shift with us ended. She was just a young girl, early 20s – my son’s age, if that – very quiet and sweet. Her name was Barbara.
I didn’t know her super well. I knew she was adopted and grew up near where I grew up in the country. She loved horses, country music, and old TV shows like Mr. Ed.
She was really just recently coming out of her shell with us and was very chatty last night. I’m not sure, but I could’ve been the last person she had an actual conversation with. This thought really struck me.
Because Sarah was really clingy last night, I almost sequestered myself in my room for a Netflix break, which I sometimes do when someone is here to work with Sarah. I am so glad I didn’t do that this time.
Instead, when Sarah’s bedtime routine was finished, we were all out in the livingroom enjoying the music Jamie was playing on Spotify. At some point, things transitioned from Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz tunes to country. I’m not big on country music, myself, but Barbara seemed right in her element singing all of the words, nodding her head and tapping her feet. She dished some country celebrity gossip between songs. I’m sure she would’ve rather been somewhere else spending time with anyone else but us on her last night on earth, but I think she was happy.
You know how when someone dies, you recall your entire last conversation with them and otherwise ordinary details jump out at you as ominous in retrospect or you wonder what if something had happened a couple seconds sooner or later?
When she first started working with us, Barbara would just slip out the door quietly at 8 pm. After a couple nights of her disappearing without a word, I started saying “have a good night” and she started saying it on her way out.
Last night, Sarah was in the livingroom with us, so before she had the chance to slip out this time I said, “Sarah, say bye, Barbara. Bye bye.” So Barbara turned back and said a simple “bye” to Sarah before flipping our outside light on and slipping quietly out our door for the last time.
Rest in peace and know that in the short time we knew you, you did touch our lives. I admire you and people like you who choose to do what you do for a living – help families like ours.
Life is so fragile. You never know when or whether you might be the last person someone sees, spends time with or talks to on this earth.