We left the Ronald McDonald House and headed to the hospital where Samantha spent most of her time, Memorial Hermann. But we didn’t go in yet. We parked in the garage and headed to the Commons, an area in the middle of the medical center with a bunch of restaurants. This was an opportunity to have lunch with one of Samantha’s doctors, one that we grew close to, Susan Pacheco. She is an immunologist and would have been Samantha’s primary care doctor after hospitalization, had things gone differently.
We were not surprised when Susan was late for lunch. One of the things we loved best about her was that she never limited her time with us or Samantha. She took the time to look her over, read her charts, and talk with us for as long as we needed, answering questions and just helping us to feel better about things. The last evening we spent at the hospital, she spent two hours with us in our room, just chatting and helping us to work through the whole picture in front of us.
Because we knew that she takes her time with her patients, we had come to lunch expecting to wait a bit for her. We got to take a breather in the midst of so many memories and emotions filling our hearts.
Lunch was great! We spent time talking about memories, and showed her the book we had printed recently from Samantha’s Caring Bridge site (everything from the site is printed in it – posts, comments, pictures, and tributes). She asked me to email her a couple of the pictures that she especially loved.
We also learned that she is working with another family who just made the decision to take their child home on hospice care. At her request, we agreed to share our contact information with the family so we can be an encouragement to them.
One of the other neat things about our time was discussing Celiac’s disease, which she also has. We knew this from a conversation at the hospital once, but it was helpful to follow her direction for lunch. Travis learned he can eat Reese’s Peanutbutter cups, which thrilled him. And we shared with her that we had found a gluten-free bakery in Houston. So both sides got some treats from the experience. But mostly it was good to talk and catch up. She made us call her Susan, the first time we had done that. But now that our daughter is not her patient, our relationship really is just a friendship. I hope it continues for a long time to come.