After she had been sick of cancer for four years, Christia Maria Jermiin Dieserud, 54 years old, was admitted to Hospice Djursland in the eastern part of Jutland in Denmark. At this point she had refused all life-extending medication. She didn’t want to spend her remaining time being sick of chemotherapy: “I know that I’m going to die. And for the time I have left, I want to be as much of a real person as possible.” Surrounded by her dearest, Christia passed away on December 11th 2016.


 

It’s afternoon. Christia is in pain, but she’s happy. When she first came to Hospice Djursland it was in order to alleviate her symptoms – and then the staff had planned for her to go home afterwards. But today is a good day. She has been told that she can stay at the hospice until the end. Although this information holds the sad notion that she doesn’t have much time left. She knows that. But that’s not what’s important right now. What is important is the peace and quiet. That she can stay right where she is and not worry about anything and rest. 

Christia and her husband Ole sit on the terrace in front of her room at the hospice. They have to enjoy every moment together, while she still has the energy. They met each other 20 years ago and at that time they were both with other partners. A few years later, they ran into each other again, this time both single. A few years later they were married. 

Time goes by, as time does - in her hospice living room and in the world outside her window. It’s the night of the American presidential election. The nurses have turned her bed around so she can follow the results from the TV. 


Christia’s sisters, Cornelia, Gro and Anne, have arrived at the hospice. The last two of them, all the way from Norway. They’re here to say goodbye. And then they have to write a letter. A letter that states Christia’s last wishes for the days and hours just before and after she dies. 

Hospice Djursland’s building is a big half-circle, where all the rooms have a view of the bay, the sky and the big tree. Christia often sits on the terrace. Sometimes she thinks it’s unfair that she has to die. But other times she’s ready. Throughout her sickness she has insisted on talking about death and the emotions that it entails, when you know that you have to die. 

Christia has been hospitalized at Aarhus County Hospital. Because of her tumour she accumulates a lot of unwanted liquid in her body. As a result of this her intestines gets squeezed together, so she can’t go to the toilet. But the doctors think that a problem like this shouldn’t bother for her during the final moments of her life. And that’s why she was offered to get an ostomy. It’s a rather small procedure, but Christia is weak. The evening, before her surgery, she admits that she is nervous. “What if I die under the operation?” she says. Suddenly she’s not ready to die. Not here in the hospital and at least not in this way.

It’s Thursday evening. Just a little over a week after the surgery. Cornelia, Gro and Anne are back at the hospice, because they know that Christia is at her very last days. She’s delirious and has been floating in and out of consciousness. Ole and Christia’s sisters take turns to sit by Christia's side. They know that they have a long night ahead of them, and Ole has made up a bed on the couch. Christia throws her head back and forth, and twists her body in pain. The family stands around her bed while talking to her. They put their hands on her forehead and hold her hands. They are told that the last thing you loose is your hearing.

The following day, at 2pm, Christa dies. Ole has been with her all night. All throughout the morning and noon he’s been trying to find some time to get a shower. At the exact moment the water hits his toe he hears a hard knock on the bathroom door: “You have to come… Now!” He runs back to Christia’s room. Ten minutes later, she takes her last breath and passes away.


Later that day, Ole is back to sitting on the terrace. Just as he and Christia had done so often during her stay. They’ve waited a long time for this moment. And now it finally happened. And it went, as she had wanted it.

The day after, the funeral director arrives to place Christia in her coffin. 

Christia and Ole have lived in the house by the woods for four years. Some of their friends from the road have shown up to help carry the coffin in the house.

“You’re here now. And soon your friends and family will be here,” Ole talks to Christia after the funeral director is gone. It was Christia’s wish that a few selected people should come by and say goodbye to her in her living room.

And people had to drink wine. That was how Christia had planned it. But not just any wine. A specific wine, which Christia had chosen for the occasion, while she was in Italy a few months prior to her passing. And they had to eat her friend’s Chili Con Carne. And everybody had to have a nice time. Occasionally, this last part brings about laughter in the kitchen. 

Christia had made it very clear who she wanted by her side when she died. This is the first time her mother sees her in years. “Christia. Why won’t you wake up? Why won’t you just come back to me?” Her mother sits by the coffin. Stands up to walk away. And then comes back. Walks away. And comes back again. 

Yet another neighbour drops by. He was wondering why all of a sudden there were so many people in the house, now that it’s been so quite for the past few weeks. He’s brought an old travel record player and it plays ‘Silent Night’ to Christia.


Ole has said goodbye to Christia several times over the past few days. But this is perhaps the toughest one yet. It’s the last time he touches her. And the last time he sees her. The funeral director puts the lid on the coffin.


It’s the day after. Half an hour before the funeral director comes to drive Christia to the crematorium. Ole sits by their usual smoking spot. Here, where they would sit everyday together feed a wild cat that came by. The cat is here today as well. 


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