Eye Contact?

This is day 8 of Grandma's journey and according to the hospice lady, she doesn't have much time. But what does that mean? At this point, it's all relative because two weeks ago they said she didn't have much time.

My aunt (the nurse) said on Friday Grandma's in the condition to hang on for another week and the hospice lady said she had a similar patient who lived for 16 days. That's 16 days without food and water. The human body is amazing.

I've been up to Sarasota most days since a week ago last Wednesday (the day I returned from Obama's inauguration) and didn't see much difference Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday. She seemed somewhat responsive to voices and would raise her eyebrows or move her mouth as if trying to say something. But Friday was different. When I walked in, she opened her eyes and apparently, it was the first time she's opened them since her journey began. (Note: the term "journey" is the hospice phrase for "dying.") Her mouth also moved as if she was trying to say something but nothing came out.

Her eyes were glassy and just stared. Her head moved but her eyes didn't.

I wasn't thinking, "oh, she's getting better." I'm not letting myself believe that, but I had to wonder, does she know what's happening? If she does, I know she's thinking this isn't the way it was supposed to happen.

I truly thought she'd be able to will herself to die. That she'd be able to go to sleep and pass peacefully. That's what she wanted. Spending her finals days in a hospital hooked up to oxygen and pumped with morphine is not what she wanted. (Although, being pumped with morphine probably isn't all the bad for the dying.)

She said her goodbyes, put her life in order prior to her stroke, all of her children have visited, yet she's still hanging on. Is it because when we say "good night" and "see you tomorrow" she's thinking she needs to hang on? Tomorrow night, should I just tell her "pleasant dreams"? Or is it because no one can will themselves to die and nature just needs to take its course?

The hospice lady told Mom most patients pass when no one is around. She told stories of how family members would spend hours at a time with their loved one, yet when they take a break, the patient's journey ends. That's how my other grandmother went, with no one with her after family visited days on end.

I also wonder if they pass because they know no one is there and have given up hope. The flip side is, do they know they're alone and pass because it would save their loved one from seeing them die?

I'm starting to hate the hospital. The nurses and staff are extremely nice. Some come in and pray, one brings aromatherapy scents, they know the family and seem to care about our well being. The place is also very clean. Those aren't the reasons I hate it.

I hate pushing the elevator button for the 8th floor where Grandma is. I associate it with death. A patient on her floor expired over the weekend and the days are limited for the patient in the room next to her. I can't stand the smell - that distinct, sterile odor invading my nostrils as soon as I walk through the doors is repulsive. Ironically, it doesn't stop me (or others) from eating lunch, etc., in her room.

We continue to rub our hands with the disinfectant that's mounted outside her room. I'm not sure why. It's meant to prevent germs from entering her room but at this point, does it really matter?

Tonight, I'm remembering the happy times spent with Grandma and praying for her peace.


Anonymous said…
A friend passed away under similar circumstances and I remember wondering why he couldn't die and do himself and everyone else a favor.
Then I remember feeling bad for thinking that, but knowing that I was not really wrong.
Your emotions run the full gambit when you standby for someones passing.