Tuesday, May 26, 2009

pools and rushes

oh, the drama and the gentle melancholy of the post of yester-year. Or, at least, two days ago.

I am here. No sad, solemn faces greeted me at the airport, neither tragedies nor triumphs. And, faced with the reality of this slow wait, the rollercoaster of slow then terrifying is it now? then slow again, I can almost relax. I nearly know this pattern, know how time pools, then rushes past - all while I stand gaping, trying to parse, to understand, hell, to catch up and keep the pace.

Pace? There is no pace. Silly woman.

She gasps for breath, body tense, her hands gripping the side of the bed. Her hands look almost angry at those moments, fierce and ruthless. She vomits, and I'm rubbing her shoulder, saying the pragmatic loving things that I say to my boys. Go on, get that out. Your body wants it out. And helplessly, she does.

And then she's quiet. Leaning back on her pillows, the mask on her face and a calm waiting look in her eye. Around her, family swirls. We chat with her, to each other, laughing and enjoying the family coalescing. When she's quiet, we let the reason for our gathering rest. Hello! How have you been? Did you bring photos of the kids? Of course. And I lean over her bed, showing her the photos while I show the others.

Here's the Eldest's sewing, the Toddles writing letters, the my wonderful kid this, and my wonderful kid that. She reaches out a shaking hand and tries to wrap her fingers around a photo. I hold her hand and together, we admire a child's face. Time pools gently in the room, and I start to relax.

Come on, says an aunt. And I do, kissing a silver hair goodbye, the soft sueded skin. Damn, but I'm lucky, I think. I wish the nurses a good night and we leave. The nights are, of course, the worst time, the aunt admits. I nod. I know this, and yet I can see how we might let ourselves leave this informal vigil, fooling ourselves into thinking that maybe, possibly, there is a pattern. It's a more comforting thought than unpredictability, than waiting for an unexpected ending, and I can see now how little grace there could be in such an ending. The gasp, the body striving, the desperate need of lungs, starving for air - oh, no. Not grace; need.

Pool, rush, pool, rush, pool. The pattern is there, tempting us.


magid said...

Keeping you and yours in my thoughts.

Abacaxi Mamao said...

Wishing you gentle leave-takings.

This reminded me so much of my grandmother dying in June 2007 (and my grandfather in January 2004) that it took my breath away and made me cry a little. You have such a gift with words, and with things that are damned hard, too.

Endings are so hard and so unpredictable.

Jen said...

Oh, wish I knew what to say. Good luck, and may the end come easily, particularly for her, but for all of you.

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful that you are able to be there.

Lois Grebowski said...

I'm so glad you were able to be there for her. I know it means alot to her.

Sending caring thoughts, many hugs, and lots of prayers your way.

I'm also sending peace...