I could not bring myself to turn around.
I don’t know why.
She was there.
She was there for me.
She was there for us.
Janine. My colleague, my friend, my angel.
I was at school on Friday, preparing for the up-coming school year and I heard her voice – her laughter – in the front office.
Janine. So happy. So loving.
I just couldn’t turn around. There was too much to say to her that could not be said in the hustle and bustle of that place.
She supported me throughout the entire decline of both Mom and Dad. “Stacey, if your father wants to eat his meat in whole pieces because he enjoys the texture – it is not up to you to tell him otherwise.”
Another tidbit of wisdom, “Stacey your parents have been making decisions about their lives long before you came along – it is not up to you to take over their decisions now.”.
Janine gave me back my childhood. Thanks to her I became a daughter again.
And I remained a daughter throughout the entire two days of Dad’s final moments.
Thanks to Janine, my Dad had wonderful quality of life and wonderful quality of death (if that’s possible?).
Janine guided me throughout Dad’s final journey.
She gave me books, she gave me her shoulder to cry on, she told me how strong I really could be. “You can do this, Stacey.”, she said. She checked Dad’s breathing, she affirmed how to speak to him as though he were still with us, she told me to keep him posted about the time of day – even when he didn’t open his eyes anymore. “Your Dad will still worry that you have not had dinner, so tell him it is dinner time and you are going to go and eat.” Wise. “Tell your Dad it’s morning and describe what a beautiful day it is – open the blinds.” Wise.
Janine helped us to “live” though this journey – and helped my Dad to “live” until his final breath.
How do I say, “thank-you”? to a woman like this whose gift was far greater than any gift I could have asked for?
If you are reading this, Janine, I wish you peace. You were a gift to my family and I – and I know you continue to be a gift to all of your students too.
To you, Janine, my colleague, my friend, my angel… I toast you, “Sante”.
Dad: You done good, kid. Thanks for looking over my family. In turn, I’m looking over you! TTFN