When Evening Comes
Written in the intimate style of a diary, When Evening Comes looks into the lives of two women, Bivie and Amber, who share a common story. They both have cancer, and they are going to die.
Presented from the view point of a hospice volunteer assigned to the cases, author Christine Andreae tells the story of her own experience as she helps to care for Bivie and Amber as they pass through life’s last journey. Writing of her personal involvement in the lives of these two women, Christine gives her touching and yet factual account of the daily experiences of both volunteer and patients.
After taking hospice training at Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester, Virginia, the hospice volunteer coordinator assigned Christine a case that ultimately moved frompure professionalism to friendship. As part one of When Evening Comes begins, readers meet Bivie, mother, wife, and friend. Her struggle and that of her family members and friends plays out in an intense at-home drama that culminates in her death from colon cancer. This is an incredible story of the strength and character of an entire family facing extreme pressure.
Amber’s story begins in part two of the book. As the volunteer coordinator describes the situation, Christine writes, “I can’t help feeling as if my path has circled back to Bivie, that I’m at another beginning, and that inside the sweep of that seven-year circle, the ghosts of subsequent patients are observing me with sad, patient eyes.” Though similarities exist with Bivie, this new case presents new trials: a tense and demanding husband, no spiritual Images, and worries about money. The names in Amber’s story are fictitious; the story is real.
Christine’s book offers support to readers who are looking for information on dying and serves as a guide for hospice volunteers whose unselfishness and kindness help families and individuals walk a path that can only be walked one time.
“Andreae writes movingly and perceptively of her patients and herself, and even tells stories on herself. Hospice care changes everyone involved, she shows, not least because dying is a process, not an event, and its needs are as likely to appear late at night as at more convenient hours…She is realistic and knows that pain cannot always be controlled and that rejections by patients occur. Ultimately, she demonstrates well the values of a successful hospice program.”
In this probing, diarylike account, Andreae reflects on the lessons she’s learned from her work with two women – about life, death, bereavement, friendship and wanting – and about herself. Thoughtful and lively, the book provides a clear-eyed look at hospice work and the business of dying.
A sensitive first-person narrative of one volunteer’s hospice work over and eight-year period. Bivie and Amber, two dying women, share the limelight in this exploration of what families, workers, and patients undergo when someone is declared terminally ill. Through her journal entries, mystery writer Andreae (Smoke Eaters) describes in detail two contrasting women whose families’ responses to terminal illness also differ. So do Andreae’s feelings about the women. After Bivie’s death, the author begins her story of Amber. In between, eight years have passed. She has had 15 other patients. Her children have grown. We learn this, because Andreae weaves small threads of her outside life into the rich description of her hospice work. She uses a device of occasionally allowing details to remind her of other patients she’s had in between Bivie and Amber. Thus she can detour briefly to describe yet more people. The patients we get to know during their final months or days range in age from their 30’s to 102. Andreae makes friends, and makes mistakes, makes connections that teach her important, sometimes surprising lessons. Her comparisons of the death experience to the birth experience of the first visit with a patient to a first date, make it clear that dying is not an event separate from all other, but part of the tapestry of our lives. The section about Bivie was originally published separately by a hospice organization, Andreae’s expansion of that original piece into a book by adding other’s stories does not seem artificial but seamless. A thoughtful depiction of ordinary lives transformed (but not obliterated) by the shadow of death.
Kirkus Review. September, 2000
Andreae’s experiences as a freelance writer and mystery author (Smoke Eaters) are evident in this account of her experience as a hospice volunteer with female patients in the last stages of cancer. Hospice volunteers work through a local agency and provide support for families when their members are dying. Written in a very readable diary format. This book traces the author’s experience from the rank newcomer to seasoned volunteer. She reveals how the experiences helped her to grow and how she was able to assist the families to whom she sh was assigned. The first chapter, ‘Bivie,” was privately published as One Woman’s Death: A Hospice Volunteer’s First Case. This book is valuable for helping us understand the work hospice volunteers do and some of the problems and issues they face. A useful addition to the consume-health collections.
Mary J. Jarvis, Amarillo, TX
“My emotions throughout -When Evening Comes ran the gamut: I laughed, I read things over and over again, and I cried…Christine raises so many issues that need to be pondered before becoming a Hospice Volunteer. For years I have thought about think which she has put into words to perfection. I am not a writer, but I always wanted to get all the good stuff down on paper, and thanks to Christine, I can let go of that because I have When Evening Comes.”
Martha B. Kirk, RN & retired Hospice Volunteer,
St. Luke’s Hospital, NYC
Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care
of Southwestern Connecticut, Inc.
“In her book, When Evening Comes, Christine Andreae captures the essence of the privilege of being invited into the most private periods of the lives of her patients as they share their end-of-life journey. Through Bivie and Amber and many others, Christine experiences first hand, the ups and downs, the smiles and tears, the gains and losses.”
Judy Lentz, Executive Director
Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association
“As volunteer managers we are often looking for creative way to recognize our volunteers. When Evening Comes is not only a fun to read feel-good book, it also addresses many of the challenges that volunteers face with some interesting outcomes.”
Gary Gardia, Chairman of Volunteers
National Council of Hospice Professions
“The hospice movement has immeasurably eased the burden of caring for someone as they are dying. Hospice volunteer and mystery writer, Christine Andreae, faithfully captures this time in all its complexity. With laughter and sorrow, she takes us through the last days of several of her patients. A true and thoughtful document, When Evening Comes will join Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s On Death and Dying as an end-of-life classic.”
Author of the Claire Watkins Mystery Series
“Christine Andreae captures real life experiences that go far beyond the physical aspects of death and dying. She provides the reader with the opportunity to explore the emotional transformation from life to death by the courageous people spoken about in When Evening Comes. As we listen to their messages, we discover not only a positive way to make that transition ourselves, but also a more conscious way to live.”
Ernest J. Camevale, Jr.,
Chief Executive Officer Blue Ridge Hospice
All Author’s royalties are being donated to Blue Ridge Hospice.
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