Kona and I went on our first official "hospice" visit to the VA Hospital in La Jolla. As you know, we do regular dog therapy visits to the hospital's SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Unit twice a week, and have been going there for nearly 8 months. We've only been to the Community Living Center (formerly called the Hospice ward) once before, on Sept. 30th, and it was a visit I will never forget.
Well, time has gone by, I've done some more training to prepare myself for making regular visits there, and today, it payed off. Kona and I were the only team that attended today, and it was a heartwarming visit. We were escorted around by a lovely older gentleman, with a bright smile and twinkling eyes, that knew most of the patients personally. He introduced us both warmly to each person we encountered, and we felt more like we were visiting with neighbors than with people we'd never really met before. It was a positive experience, and after an hour of visiting with everyone in the area I felt really good to have brought a few moments of joy to some folks that could really use it.
As we walked to the elevators and talked about the next time we'd be coming to visit, we heard the overheard speakers chime in with a code of a "rapid response" needed in a particular "pod" of the area that we had just visited. I casually asked our escort what the code meant. He told me that a "rapid response" code meant that there had been a death in that area.
One of the people we had just visited had passed away. It was that quick. A matter of moments, and a life was gone.
For just a moment the tears welled up in my eyes, as they had back in September. Then I took a deep breath, and instead of the tears coming, a smile came to my face. I thought about the last few moments of that person's life, and how hopefully Kona had added just a little bit of peace and comfort with his soft fur, liquid brown eyes, and heavenly face.
My boy is a Golden Angel indeed.