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Diane's Story

Grab a tissue - because it's a good one!

A photo of a chestnut horse with a woman's hand stroking his nose.

Diane titled her story,

"Riding off into the Sunrise." The story was first published in the June issue of the Critical Care Nurse magazine in 2006.

Diane says although she's shared this story many times, it still makes her cry.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Diane!

As nurses in these very busy times, we so often feel we just don't have the quality time to listen to our patients, but on a very hectic day, I did just that, and I am glad I did, or I would have missed this wonderful gift of a story to share with my colleagues.

I was caring for a delightful lady in her 80s, who had just received news that she had a life-altering illness that needed to be treated aggressively, or it would most likely give her only months to live. She had leathery tanned skin and wrinkles that gave her face the character of a life outdoors in the sun. She had lived all her life on a ranch and said this was the first year she had missed the branding of the calves.

She told me that 2 years earlier, her spouse had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and just wanted to come home to the ranch to die. She brought him home to the ranch so that he could live his final days in peace, as he wanted. She said they got on their horses every day and rode up the hill to watch the sunrise. She and her husband, she explained, had had their horses many years, and had spent countless hours in the saddle doing the required ranch work. One day her husband said he was too weak to go on the ride, and he lay in bed while she made him breakfast. While she was in the kitchen, she heard him say, "Why there's Rueben." She went into the bedroom to look, and sure enough, the horse, Rueben, had come to the window. She opened the window so her husband could pet his nose, and when the horse left, her husband was smiling and at peace. Rueben did the same thing for 3 days in a row and each time she opened the window so her husband could pet his horse and smile that once again the faithful horse didn't forget his owner. On the fourth day, her husband died; he is buried on the ranch on the hill. She told me she still rides her horse and takes Rueben along to visit the grave and to enjoy the sunrise with her horses and dogs. She told me she just wanted to go home to the ranch and be able to enjoy the sunrises until she could no longer get on her horse. We were both crying as she told me this story, but I also think we both felt very at peace because she had made a hard decision and wanted everyone to know it was OK—that she was ready to ride off into the sunrise when her day came. I will never forget how she lifted my spirits and found a warm place in my heart for this loving story. I am delighted I took the time to listen and hope I have this opportunity to do it again many times.

For more stories from the heart, check out:

And the patients that touched my life:

Published by Jennifer Tipton / This post may contain affiliate links.

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