One Last Sale, a short story by critical-care nurse Judith Reishtein and published last year in Pulse: Voices from the Heart offers insights about patients' willpower and loved-ones' gifts to patients at the end of life.
"Did you sell the business yet?"
I marvel at my patient Jack: despite his breathlessness, he's somehow managed to greet his wife Sara with a complete sentence. Given his condition, it's truly amazing...Most of his lung function has been devastated.
Sara and Jack have been married for thirty-five years, since before he took over his father's small shoe concession and turned it into a thriving business.
For the past five years, Sara has been watching Jack deteriorate--first slowly, then more rapidly. Sara and I both know that his decline is accelerating.
[E]very day Jack has greeted Sara with the same question: "Did you sell the business yet?"
And every day, Sara has given the same answer: "No, not yet."
But today, although Jack's question is the same, Sara's answer is different.
...he takes his last breath.
"It looks like you settled the sale just in time," I say.
There's something within us--call it will, call it the soul--that has the power to fan the life force or extinguish it.