April 22, 2013 by Marj Hatzell
There is something inherently beautiful about being there when someone is brought into this world. There is also something inherently beautiful about being with them when they leave it.
If you are lucky enough to be there, if you have the privilege of being there, you feel emotions you’ve never felt before. You sometimes wait for the last thing you will hear from them. It becomes imprinted on your brain and you cherish that moment forever. You remember it day after day.
When my grandmother was ill, I went to see her one day and we had dinner together. She was still able to eat a little but wasn’t able to swallow or chew much. So naturally this meant softer foods. The last thing I remember her saying? “I hate noodles.”
Before my father slipped into a come and ultimately passed away I would go to see him every day. Whenever we could go back into the ICU and sit and hold his hand, I’d go in and say, “Hey, Pop! How are you doing today?” and he’d answer, “I’m still here, aren’t I?” And the day before he fell quiet he roused enough when I kissed him and answered, “I’m feeling a little rocky.” And then next day when he wasn’t really responding, he said, “OW.” Every time someone touched his hand or kissed him.
My mother’s body has decided enough is enough and is finished with the pain and suffering. We agree with her body, for the record. It’s been five years of gradual decline, hospital stays, therapy, nursing home rehab, tests and more tests, medications and more medications, specialists, not-so-specialists, the list goes on. When she went on hospice two weeks ago I was honestly relieved. She stayed with my Brother and Sister-in-law for a few days before ending up back at the hospice facility. We couldn’t manage her pain and suffering at home any longer. The first day in the facility the toxin build up in her body caused her to have some hallucinations but she’d still joke or ask us to do things. As she slipped further away there were less lucid moments and more slumber. Yesterday she was out for most of the day but would occasionally open her eyes or mumble something. At lunch time yesterday I told her that I’d be back with some lunch and she popped her eyes open, looked at me with a crooked grin and said, “YOU LOOK PREGNANT.”
And that’s the last thing I heard from her.
I realized today that I am an orphan. I know it sounds silly but I feel sort of alone for the first time in my life. The thing I’m most grateful for is the fact that I have so many siblings. We’re all there for one another. We’re spending tons of time together. We are driving each other crazy. We’re laughing and crying with one another.
I know I’m lucky. Not everyone has the awesome family I have.
And no, you can’t have them. MINE.