Jojo's Hope

Jojo's final days with her terminal illness are marked by pain, but an unexpected visit opens up the possibility for hope and peace amidst the suffering.

The other day, Anne, a colleague of mine who works in another department, saw me in the hallway and says, "Cri, do you know that Jojo is hospitalized? she is not well, she is in the terminal phase and has asked for her life to be ended.” I am shocked; I ask for more information. Jojo is a nurse who has worked in the operating room all her life and retired a few years ago. We all worked with her and learned from her.
She lives near the hospital and sometimes I would meet her at mass in the church near the hospital.

I asked Anne where Jojo is and I went to see her with another colleague of mine. When I arrived at the room, she was lying in bed in great pain. She was on dialysis and was having difficulty breathing. Her body was unrecognizable.

Her face was swollen, with no hair, and her arms were bruised from the many infusions. I greet her, she opens her eyes, recognizes me and then closes them again. Maybe because she felt embarrassed, I think to myself.

In order not to tire her out, I tell her: “Don't worry about talking, save your strength for your breath. We are here in silence, we just wanted to say hello. "

I walk over to her bed and kneel beside her. She begins to talk and tell me that her tumor is stage 4, it is a very rare and aggressive tumor, she discovered it in October, and she has excruciating pain. She confides to me about her decision to ask to end her life.

I reply that if it is her desire to die, we pray that the Lord will listen to her on His time, and to help us abandon ourselves to him.
I ask her if she wants to pray with a priest, she tells me that she has already received the Holy oil and that she has arranged all the things for her funeral. “How great you are!” I reply. “You were a great nurse in the Operating Room, and you are a great mother, you have everything under control”. She has only one son and the father had left many years ago.

She thanks me for coming to visit her, then I ask her if she wants to have other colleagues visit. At that point her face lights up and she starts telling me the names of her colleagues, one by one, even people who no longer work with us.
Then I ask her if she also wants to see the surgeons she says: “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Her face was totally changed! Full of desire, her eyes sparkled at the idea of ​​seeing her colleagues.

It was as if through that simple question Hope had entered the room. Seeing the faces of her colleagues she could gaze at her entire history, her work as a dedicated nurse who cared for the sick and helped her colleagues.The next day, I organized all the visits of 2 colleagues at a time. Although Jojo had had a bad night, she absolutely wanted to see people.

Many returned with their eyes full of tears, others did not dare to visit her; surgeons,, secretaries, an entire community was moving.

The following day when I went to see her she told me her blood pressure is very low and that she asked for the DNR (do not resuscitate), and I replied that I too would have done the same, but the idea of ending her life was no longer there!

“Do you want to see people?” I ask her. And with her head she tells me yes! It struck me because in the very little she said, I understood that she spoke another language, the language that only God understands, she had already passed to the other side and we no longer understood it.

She was ready, she had seen her granddaughters, her family and her operating room. After a day she was transferred to Palliative Care. I went with my colleagues, and we went in two at a time.
She could no longer speak, but her face spoke. “Jojo, did you see how many people came?” I asked and she was very proud. I told her the names and she smiled.

“Wait for us in heaven, we'll follow you soon! we'll have a nice Christmas Party all together " and my colleague adds, "we'll eat your delicious pancet (typical Filipino dish) and toast, and we’ll dance together "
The same day in the afternoon she left us, but her face was at peace happy for having seen her people again. See you soon Jojo!

Cristina, Montreal