Saturday, January 25, 2014

to cry out and be held

Almost two weeks ago the hospice nurse and I decided that mom should transfer to the inpatient facility; I was quickly becoming unable to care for her physically, limited by my strength and size. That afternoon an ambulance came and brought her here, to the Hock Family Pavilion, one of Duke Hospice's inpatient locations. It's beautiful, the people are wonderful, and it's close to home. Mom was foggy and that first day said she was a little scared so I stayed the night in her room on a cot. It's hard for me to write that now as it has been days since she has been able to speak, or communicate in any way, really. She opens her eyes occasionally but doesn't really see me. I speak to her (they say hearing is the last sense to go) and ask her to squeeze my hand, but it doesn't happen. No more sleepy smiles, either, when the nurses come in. This is creeping death.

It could come at any time now, they say. I suppose I should be sleeping here, or spending more of my day here, but I haven't. And maybe there aren't any "shoulds" when it comes to watching a parent die. I spoke yesterday with one of the social workers here and told her it was remarkable that we don't have a more streamlined process for the dying. It's bulky. Cold bodies moved around, so many papers to sign, accounts to cancel, the bevy of supporters from whom you know you can't possibly ask anything.

I speak to her, tell her about my day, that people send their well wishes. I tell her about how the cats are driving me nuts and that I've started dating a nice boy. I tell her that he bought flowers for her, but I was too much of a mess to bring him here to say hello, even if she couldn't hear him.

I wanted part of this blogging project to include helpful tidbits that I wish I'd known along the way, but right now I'm not sure what I could communicate. The logistics of brain cancer had been such a distraction. Perhaps another time I will be able to write about hospice and making final arrangements.

Image: Jean-Philippe Charbonnier's 1954 photograph of a wailing woman in a Parisian psychiatric hospital.  Link.

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