Writing has been my constant companion since my mother decoded my colorful crayon scribblings and transformed them into delightful stories.
NIGHTLIGHT, A Caregiver's Guide to the Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Care of the Dying, grew out of a lifetime of experiences that culminated into the book that I felt compelled to write.
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In 1997, I told my friend Ellen that I was going to write a book to honor my father. I had joined him as his main caregiver during a three-year journey shadowed by his multiple myeloma. Ellen loved my dad. She encouraged me to write the book designed to inspire people with the courage to guide their terminally ill loved ones to a peaceful death.
I completed the book, NIGHTLIGHT, a month before Ellen was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I was reluctant to share the news with her because the book's topic had suddenly become synonymous with the end of her life. My daughter convinced me that Ellen would want to know that I had finally completed my labor of love.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, posing as her sister, I walked into Ellen's room at Froedtert Hospitals Neurological Intensive Care Unit. It was a good morning. The staff had helped her into a recliner. She sat next to her husband, Gary, facing the sun. Her daughters had combed her beautiful hair over the spots where a surgeon removed a star-shaped brain tumor. She greeted me with a smile and an outreached arm. I slipped into a chair next to her.
"Ellen, I have news. I finally finished the book."
She turned her head towards me and said in her drollest tone of voice,
"Well, it's about time, Geralyn"
Three weeks later, on December 28, 2019, Ellen took her last breath surrounded by her "crew" loved ones. After 53 years of friendship, my best friend died on my birthday.