The winter snow falls softly but quickly outside the window. Inside the quiet is almost suffocating, cut only by labored breathing and soft moans of pain. Modern medicine has very little to offer in these last days...last hours...of a life ravaged by cancer.
As I sit here pondering what lies ahead and all that's transpired under this roof my eyes fill with tears.
So much hurt.
A soul can hardly imagine the desperate search for worth that follows a young life full of abuse and drunkenness, poverty and fear.
And why continue to spread that hurt by building a wall around yourself too high for a little girl to climb?
And so it goes, from one generation to the next, the sins of the father.
This is the second time I've stood in these rooms and watched and listened and even smelled the last signs of life. They give you a book...signs of death at the end...the last months...the last weeks... the last days...the last hour...kind of a morbid countdown toward the inevitable end.
The first time I did this dreary countdown, we learned about the cancer, after a week spent in the hospital Dad came home. Home to die. The signs from the death booklet moved quickly. One week later he was gone from my sight.
I thought that week was the hardest week of my life.
I was wrong.
This time the battle has been going on for 2 1/2 years. The pain, the suffering...the beginning of the end. A very long beginning. The blood, the tests, the surgery, the long recovery - never to be the same again. Treatment, more cancer...more treatment...and more cancer...out of control.
Most of the signs in the book are physical and behavioral, measurable. They are here now, even to the last page and I know it won't be long. While she's resting in one of the few pain free hours she's had in a while, I ponder my thoughts. I can't say feelings right now because I am numb.
This week I've literally watched the life blood flow from her shrunken body. Red and harsh. Stark against the white bed linens. I pull the sheets and quilt over the red but the tell tale hose that carries it away snakes out from under the covers. A hateful reminder of the internal damage done by this greedy, consuming killer.
I used to think that death was ugly. Now I think that it can be but not always. This death, approaching steadily, will be the answer to prayers...hers and mine...for peace, freedom from pain, escape from a body, once strong but now a weakened shell...a gateway to what lies ahead.
She says she is ready to meet her maker...just waiting on His timing.
Sleep...just for a moment...rest on the edge of consciousness...ready to take the few quick steps to her side if she needs me. She sleeps too deeply, breathes too hard. I step across the hall to check on her and squeeze her hand, this time there is no response. I linger for a moment and then go for a drink of water. Coming right back I know something is different as soon as I reach the top of the steps...the complete silence hits me hard. My steps quicken but it feels like I'm walking through water. When I step into her room, I know. Her time has come.
She is gone from my sight.
Pondering My Meanderings... with much herbal love, Wanderer