I was a hospice nurse for eight years. One of my patients, Rachel, 53, had been misdiagnosed and ended up in the end stages of ovarian cancer. When Rachel became my patient, she was given six months or less to live. She wasn’t mad, she didn’t complain — she was ready for her next journey.
One sunny afternoon, Rachel and I spoke about what heaven might look like. As I watched her head tilt to the side, her ashen face beaming and her bald head wrapped in a cap, she leaned closer into me as if what I was going to say was everything to her. I told her that heaven for me was one big beautiful green jungle all vibrant with beautiful streams, colorful flowers and trees, and sandy white shores filled with all kinds of people, fish, and animals.
I told her that we would all know each other once we get to heaven. I explained that we could see God, that he was everywhere in all of us, and that we would be filled with love for ourselves and one another at all times … and just when I finished telling her about my own heaven, another charge nurse came in to take my shift …
Rachel lived nine months after her initial six-month sentence. One evening, she’d taken a turn for the worse, and her husband, Tim, called me. I drove 25 minutes out to Phoenix from Mesa, Arizona and I kept thinking of Tim and Rachel and how much they truly loved each other. I felt their love from the moment I met them — they were both Pisces — dreamers who met on earth and made magic together.
Tim took off work to take care of Rachel — they were married 11 years. He kept asking me during Rachel’s hour of death, “Why does she have to die, why can’t it be me instead?” In hospice you can’t cry in front of the patients — you have to keep it together for them. I thought I’d choke with the knot forming in my throat from emotion. Rachel didn’t want morphine — she wanted to experience her journey fully aware. She said she wasn’t in pain, and in hospice we learned that when the patient is in the last stages of passing, it’s not painful.
Rachel’s eyes were fully dilated, fixed — she asked for her mother, who was at her bedside — and she thanked her for her life. Her mom bent down and kissed her, cradling her daughter in her arms. Then Rachel rose up from her lying position, looked straight ahead then said excitedly, “Momma, I see it, it’s just like she told me. It’s beautiful –everyone is there, it’s so green, and the waterfall is beautiful … I see him, Momma, I see him … ”
I cried in that darkened room, blotting my tears as Rachel lay back down and asked for Tim. Tim bent over the bed holding her in his arms and kissed her on the lips. She whispered, “I love you.” He cried, “I will always love you.” I peeked over at her as she said her last words to him …”I’ll see you later.” Then I saw the trickle of blood forming on her lips and running down the side of her mouth. Tim turned to me in shock, “I felt her spirit — it went right through me.” He kept saying it over and over … that her spirit went through him — and he felt it … and I knew Rachel was in heaven.