The sound of the big, blue machine in the corner is all too familiar. A constant humming coupled with the in and out of a fireplace baffle. It would be pitch black in the room were it not for the light streaming in through open doorway while the hall light has been intentionally left on.
She has called me in. She wants me to crawl in to bed with her. I do. I touch her – tell her I am here. She rests. I sit.
Suddenly I am faced with the reality she might die. I mean how silly really. I knew that. Knew she wasn’t going to get better. Knew that her body was wearing out. Knew that it wasn’t good, but this…this is something much different.
I grab the iPad and stare at the screen. Now what? I don’t feel like perusing my favorite blogs or websites. Don’t feel like checking my mail or working. Can’t read. It’s too dark in here. So I begin to type while she labors to breathe. Each alone. Yet not alone.
The machine hums on.
Then I realize: This is me staring at a frail woman that was once strong and was known to even be fierce. This is me tending to a debilitated and sick woman that I have shared so many laughs and the vigor of life with. This is me sitting in bed, glancing back and forth from woman to screen, woman to screen, wondering if I can do this right. This is me knowing she is worn out, and that I am exhausted even before it has begun. This is me praying for God’s timing and God’s mercy while she lays under her crucifix and rosary beads. And, this is me: trusting and believing her story is not yet finished. And, this is she: dying.
She rolls over and I adjust the covers. The machine hums on.
She stirs and starts talking. “Why am I so wiggly? What time is it? How are the kids doing in school? Maybe Isabelle can figure out what is wrong with me. How is Sophia? Jonathan settled down this last time I saw him at Thanksgiving. Has your dad got things organized yet– is the TV up? How is David’s book selling going?” In an instant the conversation turns to peeing. She has to go, but she doesn’t want to get up. I tell her her two options are either 1. Peeing in bed, or 2. Getting up and going to the bathroom. She says she doesn’t like either option. She wonders if she can go fast. I say, “Sure. I will help you up, give you a swift kick in the ass and you run to the bathroom, pee, and then run back.” She laughs.
Bathroom trip complete. It wasn’t exactly sprinting, but we made it. She is back in bed. Wiped out. I dose her with another quarter pill and she drifts off to sleep.
I start to type again then change my mind. Time for me to rest too. It’s my first night back in the house. It’s going to be a tough weekend I surmise, but well worth every effort. iPad goes on the floor. I adjust my pillows, lay back, and close my eyes.
The machine hums on.