The Texas Bohemian

Word artist. Jack of all Trades.

Death Watch

I’m having a little trouble holding my eyes open this moment.  Next to me my mother sleeps, often lifting her arms and mumbling some imagined something.  The room is quit but for her gentle snoring, the noises of the hospital, buzzing of her air bed (drives me nuts) and the bubbling of an oxygen connection hanging behind me.  The O2 was abandonned over a day ago but the nurses just hung the line over the bubbler and left it going.

Today I helped my mom on and off the potty.  Well, I assisted the aid.  Not something I ever dreamed I’d do.

We went to mom’s house to arrange furniture for the hospital bed, if we take her home.  It’s iffy at the moment.  She’s really sinking pretty fast and we’re not sure it’ll be possible.  Getting her home has been our goal for weeks.  It’s been her only desire, to be home.  Now we’re down to the wire.  Will she hang on long enough?

Yesterday she had what Hospice calls a “spurt,” a burst of energy that often comes before death.  She settled up with us, had a few more liquids than usual and in general was her old self for a little while.  It was wonderful.

Last night she sank back into sleep and stupor.  I sat where I sit now, looked at her and cried.  I still can’t quite rap my head around the idea she’ll be gone in hours or days.

My mom asked me if I was “saved.”  She was worried about me.  She’s dying and she was worrying about me.  I told her she needn’t worry.  Of course the universalist I am I figure we all are but not a point worth pressing.  “I’ll be fine,” I told her.  She says I have to let go.  I said I know.  I told her not to worry, too, I promised not to pull a three day drunk like I did with dad.  Hey, I probably would except my illness won’t let me. ha.  I’m stuck with reality.

I ask my wife how long I’ve been here.  She said a week.  No kidding.  I’ve been in this room almost all the time for a whole week.  I’ve been wearing slippers and eating hospital food and sleeping either on this pull-out thing or a roll-a-way.  Hmm.

Still I sit.  Sometimes I wander into the family room for coffee.  Once in a while I go outside for a little air.  Otherwise I’m right here, sitting by mom, talking if she’s awake or watching over her when she’s not.

Just now her hands moved as if she was putting on some lotion.  Often she has her fingers working like she’s crochetting.  Life continues in her head.  She speaks a name, mine, a cousin, one of my kids.  I wonder what she’s thinking.

I asked my wife and my brother today why we cling so hard to things when we know so very well everything is impermanent.  “Don’t go, momma,” I think, “I don’t want you to go.”  But biology is what it is.  I sit here watching her run down like an old clock, spring slowly tugging at the gears, not even strong enough any longer to clang the bell.

She takes a sip of water or maybe juice.  I see it go down the straw, into her mouth, and in a second flash through the tube into the bag beside her bed.  She is so thirsty.  Every time she wakes she asks for a sip.  It does no good.  I feel so sad.

It’s supposed to rain this week.  Mom will pass on.  I will cry soon.  Maybe now.  Impermanence will remain what it is.  We’ll wish for stuff we won’t get.  Life will continue its steady progress.  In time there’s only be a few memories of the beloved woman beside me.  A few memories and a few things which will eventually crumble to dust.

“No one is truly gone unless there is no one to remember them.”  This is under the glass top of the table in the family room.  Indeed.  But it ain’t true.  One day, or two, soon, mom will be gone.  No more kind smile, soft hands, eyes that say, “I love you.”

Death watch thoughts.  And yeah, I think I will cry now.

November 10, 2008 - Posted by | Blather

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