His organs were failing, and the doctors felt he had only a few days. He was stretched out in an easy chair, soft winter sunlight warming his ashen skin. A few cubicles down, his family quietly sobbed as they spoke to the doctor about hospice. He didn’t want to hear about hospice, so he slept on.
I asked him if he wanted a foot massage, and he smiled and nodded. I gently removed his shoes and took his feet in my hands. “You’re like a cat in the sun,” I said. He smiled and sank back into a doze.
As I massaged his feet, I realized — this is the last massage he would ever receive. Barring some miracle, my massage was the last one of his life. The thought hit me with all the force of a fall from a great height. How could I live up to this responsibility. I paused, my hands resting on the tops of his feet, until I felt his breathing, and I felt how calm he had become. The sun still fell across his face, his eyes were shut and he had a small smile. It was a moment of ease for him. In the midst of months of worry, treatment and blood tests, here was a small moment of peace. I held that peace as I finished the massage.