A Lesson in Dying

I was surprised because in the condition that she’s in, a person like that usually they really don’t want to interact with nobody. Like You’re at the end of life.

Um, can somebody help me fix my blankets? Absolutely. You want this one? This one has Moses…

Twenty years ago, Martha Keochareon got a nursing degree from Holyoke Community College. Now she has pancreatic cancer. With less than two months to live, Ms. Keochareon is teaching students about dying. She invited journalists from the New York Times to document the visits.

She was very clear, she was teaching about pancreatic cancer, death and dying, and pain. We started doing research, and looking up her disease and stuff like that and asking her questions. She was very talkative. I was happy that she was able to open her house and her life and her disease for us to learn about it.

It’s like a cycle, you started to go to school at Holyoke and now you’re teaching for Holyoke. And all these people in your class and all the teachers that knew you, now they know you again. As a teacher.  Pretty cool.

I know. This is still blowing my mind. Blowing your mind?   Yeah.

I think she actually wanted someone to talk about it with her.

I had six months to live, and I’ve already past that by. A couple months, that’s when you went to hospice, right? Yeah, this is the second time that I’ve been in hospice.

Your heart just hurts, it’s like what can we do. And that helplessness is very hard.

In school they always teach us that pain managing is the biggest thing. We have to treat the pain. With her, how do you treat it? You’ve tried everything, what else is there to try?  You know? Mother and child. Holy infants so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.

Source: nytimes.com

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