RICHMOND, Texas -- Few people want to talk about hospice care. Morrissia Sauer didn’t either, especially after doctors told her there was nothing else they could do.
“I thought it would be all gloom and doom,” she said. “That it was just nothing good left to live for. But I've learned different.”
Morrissia, or Risa as her friends call her, is dying. At 50 she suffers from a variety of ailments including congestive heart failure. Limited now mostly to the confines of her home in Richmond and tethered to an oxygen machine, she accepted the suggestion of in-home hospice care.
She got more than she bargained along with the motivation to complete a meaningful bucket list that will include the wedding of her dreams.
"I'm good. I'm alive,” she said when we visited her the day before Halloween. “I mean every day I wake up that's a good thing."
She's been told by doctors that congestive heart failure will take her soon. But it’s a death sentence she is not facing alone.
"I'm just trying to struggle through it,” said her husband Johnny Sauer. “We take one day at a time.”
And while Johnny is by her side so is a handwritten bucket list. Seventeen handwritten items mostly detailing how she wants to make sure she’s reconciled with her family and reconciled with God.
"If you read the list there's nothing grandiose on the list,” said Johnny.
But in addition to bucket lists requests like slow-dancing with her husband one more time, Morrissia also made a request for dinner: specifically dinner from the restaurant Red Lobster. Silverado Hospice helped arrange to have a local Red Lobster deliver that dinner to the Sauer home.
"They served it to us personally. Set us down like we were at the restaurant,” said Morrissia. "My bucket list of big lobster dinner with the most rich, decadent chocolate cake I could imagine. Boy it was too!"
It was a simple request with a much deeper meaning.
"The first time he told me I love you he took me to Red Lobster,” she said. “So I just wanted to try and recapture that! And we did. It was nice."
Morrissia got that at-home dinner with the help of Silverado Hospice, the agency providing her in-home care. But the biggest item on the list would be a much taller order: the fancy church wedding she never had. She and Johnny were married by a justice of the peace 8 years ago. But they never had a church wedding ceremony.
"And I'm gonna live to do it too,” she said.
“And that's what is meaningful to her. And when we hear that it's like let me find a way to make that happen,” said Libbie Vaughan a social worker with Silverado Hospice.
And with the hospice agency’s help it is going to happen next month at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston. It’s an elaborate, ornate, and meaningful location for a Catholic whose own heart is failing her.
"He's gonna be teary eyed, I'm gonna be teary eyed,” she said. “And I can go to my grave knowing it was a real marriage not just a JP."
Silverado Hospice suggests to their patients that they make a bucket list – to have something to live for – to drain every minute out of every day.
“They really have been a blessing,” said Johnny of the help from Silverado Hospice.
“I don't know when it's gonna end. And I don't want to say it was a day wasted,” said Morrissia as she offered one final piece of advice to the rest of us.
"If you can still move about do it,” Morrissia said. “Because if you don't it's just a day you've missed, a regret that's gonna be on your list. And I don't want regrets on my list."
A dying woman's last wish and worthy advice for the rest of us too.