I drove into town to see my twin on Saturday, and again on Monday. I'm afraid she won't last much longer. On Saturday the house was abuzz with people who had come to visit her, and although she was very weak, she seemed to appreciate the company. She ate reasonably well, smiled at people, and even managed a small attempt at humor when replying to a question someone asked her. It was a relief to see this, because my mother had called me earlier in the day in somewhat of a panic, asking me to come into Richmond right then, instead of our normal Monday evening get together, because she didn't think she was going to make it through the weekend. Her attentiveness and relatively good spirits, allowed me to go home that night feeling a little better than when I arrived.
Monday however, was a different story. When I arrived at about 4 PM, she was lying with her eyes closed. Her husband said she had been like that most of the day, after talking nonsense all night. The hospice nurse arrived just after I did, and she took her vital signs, which seemed to be within reason for someone in her condition, and then she cleaned her up a bit, and put some special lotion on her backside to help prevent bedsores. Because of the locations of her spinal and pelvic tumors, she can only lay comfortably on her back, and apparently that is taking it's toll on her skin. When the hospice nurse was done, I went in to sit with her. I bent down and kissed her and stroke her cheek, but she was too weak to respond. I noticed that the urine in her catheter bag was as dark as tea, indicating that she is not taking in enough fluids. She has a hard time drinking from a glass, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for her to generate enough suction to sip through a straw.
My mother and older sister arrived a little later, and joined my brother-in-law and me. Later still, my niece arrived. Everyone tried to talk to her, but she was just too tired and weak to speak, or even hold her eyes open for more than a few seconds. My brother-in-law did mange to get her to respond, when he loudly asked her if she wanted some apple sauce. She emitted a barely audible, "yes", so he went into the kitchen and returned a couple of minutes later with a small cup size bowl of apple sauce. After raising the head of her hospital bed, he force fed her the apple sauce. I say force fed, because he would barely give her enough time to swallow, before he would shove another spoonful into her mouth. His bedside manner isn't exactly what you could call, gentle. I almost said, "Hey, slow down, what's the hurry?", but he has a huge ego, and I knew his reaction to a remark like that would be very negative. I didn't want to start an argument at my sister's bedside, that I knew he would be more than willing to participate in.
After a couple of hours, I had to go, so I held and stroked her hand for a while, then kissed her again, and stroked her cheek once more. I was hoping that she was just unusually tired from the night before, or that the OxyCodone she was taking for pain had made her lethargic, but her husband said no, that was her normal dose.
I'm going to lose her. I've resigned myself to that fact, so I don't go around in a funk all of the time, but every now and then, when I think about it, I start to cry. Not for long. Usually just for a few seconds, but I know when it finally happens, the flood gates are going to open up. That's what happened when my father died, while he and my mother were living in Florida. I was an emotional wreck, and had to take a week off from work when I got the news. After a few days, I was OK, but Dad was a retired Army officer and WWII veteran, and we had to wait another month before arrangements could be made for a military funeral and burial in Arlington National Cemetery. That solemn service brought back all of my emotions, and I had to fight to hold back the tears in the chapel, and again at the grave site when the bugler blew Taps, and the honor guard fired their salute. When I got home that night, I must have cried for a couple of hours straight, thinking about him. It would be six months, before any little thought of him didn't choke me up. I know the same thing is going to happen when my sister dies, but it's all part of our ride through life. Enduring dark times, is the price of a ticket.