Peter DeMarco lost the love of his life to a massive asthma attack last month.
Cosmopolitan reports DeMarco has been posting about his late wife on his Facebook page since her passing. One in particular caught the attention of The New York Times.
The NYT also published a thank you note DeMarco wrote to the staff at Boston’s CHA Cambridge Hospital, who cared for Levis throughout her last remaining weeks alive.
He writes, in part:
“As I begin to tell my friends and family about the seven days you treated my wife, Laura Levis, in what turned out to be the last days of her young life, they stop me at about the 15th name that I recall. The list includes the doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, social workers, even cleaning staff members who cared for her.
‘How do you remember any of their names?’ they ask.
How could I not, I respond.
Every single one of you treated Laura with such professionalism, and kindness, and dignity as she lay unconscious. When she needed shots, you apologized that it was going to hurt a little, whether or not she could hear. When you listened to her heart and lungs through your stethoscopes, and her gown began to slip, you pulled it up to respectfully cover her. You spread a blanket, not only when her body temperature needed regulating, but also when the room was just a little cold, and you thought she’d sleep more comfortably that way.”
DeMarco goes on to thank each medical professional who played a role in Levis’s comfortable stay at the hospital, noting they not only looked after her, but cared for her family, too.
Most importantly, he credits the hospital staff for keeping him strong throughout his wife’s final week of life:
“How many times did you walk into the room to find me sobbing, my head down, resting on her hand, and quietly go about your task, as if willing yourselves invisible? How many times did you help me set up the recliner as close as possible to her bedside, crawling into the mess of wires and tubes around her bed in order to swing her forward just a few feet?
How many times did you check in on me to see whether I needed anything, from food to drink, fresh clothes to a hot shower, or to see whether I needed a better explanation of a medical procedure, or just someone to talk to?
How many times did you hug me and console me when I fell to pieces, or ask about Laura’s life and the person she was, taking the time to look at her photos or read the things I’d written about her? How many times did you deliver bad news with compassionate words, and sadness in your eyes?”
The grieving husband tugs at readers’ heart strings, recalling the time when the staff even let him sneak in their cat, Cola, for “one final lick.”
He adds that they let 50 of Levis’s closest family and friends into her room to say their farewells. The day included live music, opera singing, and conversations most will likely never forget.
DeMarco recalls one moment in particular, a single hour, that will forever be ingrained in his memory:
“On the final day, as we waited for Laura’s organ donor surgery, all I wanted was to be alone with her. But family and friends kept coming to say their goodbyes, and the clock ticked away. About 4 p.m., finally, everyone had gone, and I was emotionally and physically exhausted, in need of a nap. So I asked her nurses, Donna and Jen, if they could help me set up the recliner, which was so uncomfortable, but all I had, next to Laura again. They had a better idea.
They asked me to leave the room for a moment, and when I returned, they had shifted Laura to the right side of her bed, leaving just enough room for me to crawl in with her one last time. I asked if they could give us one hour without a single interruption, and they nodded, closing the curtains and the doors, and shutting off the lights.
I nestled my body against hers. She looked so beautiful, and I told her so, stroking her hair and face. Pulling her gown down slightly, I kissed her breasts, and laid my head on her chest, feeling it rise and fall with each breath, her heartbeat in my ear. It was our last tender moment as a husband and a wife, and it was more natural and pure and comforting than anything I’ve ever felt. And then I fell asleep.”
In closing, DeMarco thanks two women in particular, Donna and Jen, for a “gift beyond gifts.”
Jen, who helped DeMarco climb into his wife’s bed to spend her last hour alive by her side, tells NBC News:
“It’s not just about the physical support you give, it’s about that emotional support.”
Peter DeMarco’s letter now hangs in the Intensive Care Unit at the Massachusetts hospital, serving as a reminder to many why they come to work each day.
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