The Day Before
edited: Monday, January 08, 2007
By Kathleen A Keena
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, January 05, 2007
Become a Fan
This is a story of loss in which
The day before she died, they looked like racoon's. So dark and so deep; junky tracks carved beneath her eyes. Her hands were an odd color of elmer's glue polluted white attached to long, bony arms she never had in life. I couldn't recognize those hands, those arms.
The day before she died I don't know if she could hear me or see me or sense me.
I moved closer to her right ear. I told her our friendship had made me a better person. I expressed gratitude for our 30+ years of sisterhood, and reminded her we had shared our adult lives together. I know you love me like this, too, I said, and know you feel the same. She made the tiniest of noises. I told her it was all right, she didn't have to explain, I knew how she felt. I settled her back down on the pillow. I held her head, which was growing soft, fuzzy
baby's hair where they had shaved for her brain surgery. It was too late to do anything but accept this; no rational arguments could contain death and I felt struck and collapsing with disbelief and sorrow. It was as if her baby fuzz was saying "I am ready to be re-born into my new life now".
The day before she died, I brought her a pastel green fleece blanket which I spread over her. Her left leg was jumping in involuntary spasm. I took a chance and began to massage her leg, which calmed her almost instantly. Remember how much you always loved massage? I asked. She was no longer conscious that day, but I felt her presence, her love.
The day before she died, I held her hand for two hours. Bruised black and blue by
constant medical checks, it looked as if she had been beaten up. I guess she had.
I never suggested she delay her departure, a life on morphine with a growing brain tumor made no sense for one so vital. She was shockingly honest, and now that she was dying, her daughter and I agreed, she would be swift. No ambiguity for her.
She was fast. None of us were prepared.
And how youthful in spirit and appearance she was. People often did not believe she had four grown children and two grandchildren.
The day before she died, the hospice hallways smelled of stale diapers and rotting flowers. In the bed next to hers, an elderly woman cried for water before finally helping herself at the bathroom faucet. I was astounded, couldn't everyone see she my friend was dying? And T.V.s droned on with either cartoons or game shows, like a mocking funhouse out of control.
The day before she died, canned Christmas Muzak and cardboard cut outs of snowmen skating permeated the halls. This drone over or under the other noise, depending on where on the floor you were. I hoped so much she did not see the infantalizing of terminal patients.
The day before she died, an artifically perky voice brought her a child's cup of ice cream. The nurse put her face right in front of her and commanded a blood curtling "you need to wake up now, can you hear me? I'm going to give you some food. Come on, sweetheart". Sweetheart!
She was never anyone's sweetheart. The nurse stuck a spoon in her mouth before pronouncing "no gag reflex".
The day before she died, especially after the nurse treated her like an infant, I wept hopelessly. I still had hold of her hand, but that more for me than her. I think it was, the day before she died, just another practice in letting go she had worked on as long as I'd known her.