The helplessness of watching someone in the final stages of dying…
The frustration of watching someone in the final stages of dying…
The heartbreak of watching someone in the final stages of dying…
I’ve often read the phrase, “cancer sucks.”
Yes, indeed. It sucks, big time.
Mother cannot get comfortable in her sleep. She grabs at the blanket, writhes and moans in pain from her Kennedy ulcer, her back, the cancer, and her tiny body shutting down. Her face is now distorted, masking her lovely, familiar features.
Nurses have been in to visit Mother, crying and sharing stories of how much she touched their lives. Mother made certain the nurses, front desk personnel, cleaning and kitchen staff were personally greeted each day, and told they are loved.
My sister, Dena, has been a saint in all she has done to assist Mother’s needs and communicating with the staff and hospice nurses. She’s done such an admirable job balancing her children at home, heading up the role of Mother’s medical executor, and all while starting a new business. Sis’s tireless caring and attention has been a blessing throughout this transition.
Mother’s room is filled with laughter as my sister and I share stories and joke with one another. The night-shift nurses often stop in to join in the merriment.
My sister went to the restroom and I’m alone with Mother. I gaze upon the face I’ve known for nearly fifty-five years and barely recognize but a few features.
I will especially miss her sparking smile that made her eyes seem to dance. Her fifth grade teacher (also mine, twenty years later) at Washington Elementary School, Garnetta Brugger, always told Mother she had “smiling eyes.”
All the recognizable features are blurred and her voice and laughter are now in the past.
Since there are no monitors to alert us, we rely on studied glances to observe movement in her chest cavity or listen for the labored breathing.
It’s now 5:00 AM, the third day of August.
It’s been exactly six months since our brother Destin’s suicide. We’ve wondered if she might have selected this date for departure.
The watch continues…