Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dark Days Are Looming

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.

Melissa XX

12 comments:

caroline said...

Shame we hit that problem with the chat connection this could have been a time to unburden. The tears flow in proportion to the love you shared so let them flow.

I have always found it easier to let someone go if you have seen them suffering and are happy to see the misery end or if you have had time to make peace with them rather than the sudden snatching away without warning of an accident or heart attack.

She has not reached the age we now have come to expect, I hope she took pleasure from the time she had. Let it be a lesson to us to use the time we have as well as we can, no time to hide in the shadows.

My thoughts are with you.

Caroline XXX

Two Auntees said...

You and your sister are in our prayers.

chrissie said...

Mine too, Melissa.....

love
chrissie
xxxxx

Dana Andra said...

I'm sorry for what you're going through, Melissa. My mother is in a similar condition. No tumors, but too much fluid on her brain until the pressure took away who she was. Eating has recently become difficult and it looks like the end is near, but then the end doesn't come and she remains in this state of near-death. She doesn't seem to know who any of us are anymore, but who knows what kind of struggle goes on in a mind that doesn't know up from down and can't hold memories for more than 7 minutes.

I'm just saying that I feel your pain...saying it with more words than necessary, as usual.

Love
Dana
xox

Naukishtae said...

Dear Melissa.. You are in my thoughts each day.. you are not alone sweet friend.. we each deal with death in different ways.. it is more painful for you, because you are a twin.. and so close to her.. it's too bad regaurding her husband.. but karma is a beautiful thing.. remember all the beautiful times together, and the very close relationship you have had with her.. Goddess Bless you both..

I have not lost a sibling yet, and I am the eldest.. we are as close as siblings can be who were not raised together, but not nearly what you have been blest with.. all we can hope for is that our family members pass peacefully..

I wish we were closer.. so we could give you more support as you go on this journey.. I can only say that you will be in my thoughts always, and I am sure each us who have become attached to you will be praying for you during this time..

Love Naukishtae

Rebecca said...

Melissa, my heart goes out to you. I will keep you both in my prayers.

Lucy Melford said...

Same for me.

Lucy

Leslie Ann said...

Keeping you in my thoughts, Melissa.

The Crossdresser's Girlfriend said...

The greatest gift my parents ever gave me was that little girl they brought home from the same hospital I came from not even two years before. I can recall conversations at our little tea table when it should have been impossible for my Irish twin to speak but I nevertheless recall them. I've always been fascinated with twins; always believing that they share a deep cosmic commitment to one another and to the world. She was there with you in birth and I believe you will be there for each other in death. They wait for us. All of the beautiful people we've loved and lost well they wait for us to join them. Your father is waiting for your sister and she will be waiting for you. It's the divine plan. We change form and that is God's real grace to us. You're such a strong person. Elegant and strong. I hope you will assure your twin it's okay to go ahead-that you will follow and you'll meet again as you always have and as you always will. You're both transitioning-just in different ways.

Two Auntees said...

May the Peace of the Lord be always with you. You and your sister will be in our prayers.
Sarah

Suzi said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you too, Melissa.

It seems that we all go through a period of years in our lives I call "the dying years." For me and my wife it was from about '90 through '00. We lost all of our parents and grandparents in that period, plus my brother, and her sister. It seemed that we were always going to a funeral. Death is just another part of life...the ultimate graduation to something better. It's never pleasant but the pain will pass in time.

Let the tears flow dear. There's certainly nothing wrong with that.
Hugs,
Suzi

lisalisa said...

I just wanted to send some love.
Big hug. x