Sunday, February 24, 2013
As it turns out, the laptop is a good investment. It's 10:30 on a Sunday night. I woke up this morning planning a lazy day of laundry and being with my people, having celebrated Casey's twelfth birthday the day before. I planned on driving up to see Nana next weekend. I planned on a nice glass of red with Bill after dinner. But then the phone rang and plans be damned. I'm 300 miles from home sitting in a Hospice House with Nana as she fades away from this world. And all I can think of as I sit here is "write something". Because I am with Nana. And there is so much history. So many laughs and lately, so many tears with no doubt more to come.
When I spoke to Moe earlier, I told her it is oddly peaceful sitting here in this beautiful facility, designed to allow people to die with dignity and free from pain. Nana does not open her eyes. She doesn't have a snarky remark or a reprimand for my absence. She just lies there very still, her purpose now to take the last breaths her body has rationed her for 96 years. I take her hand and fold her fingers around mine, so they stay locked. So she knows I am here, despite everything that was designed to keep me at bay. We are "real good", she would say if she could. We always have been.
Someone had turned on a radio in her room. Christian music. For some reason, this doesn't annoy me like it usually would. I am not sure what I feel about religion, and I certainly don't have any Christian music on my iPod but for some reason, it seems right to have it playing very quietly. Nana used to sing gospel songs. I know Nana can't hear it, she doesn't have her hearing aids in and she is quite busy dying, so I suppose this music is meant for my ears instead.
I take in Nana's room here at Hospice Home. Beige walls. She would love that. She pronounced it bay-JEH. Her whole house was beige, and she never understood why I wouldn't want my walls the same french vanilla ice cream color. "Beige walls look nice and clean, Kimi. You can never go wrong with beige."
Beige walls aside, I am going to miss about a million things about this person. I will never be able to make a kick ass pie crust from scratch without her to help me. I will never again have a perfectly ironed tablecloth returned to me after Christmas dinner, packed in white tissue paper ready for the next holiday. I will never eat deviled eggs that compare to hers. I will (probably) never get told I should "get that weight off so everyone can see your pretty face" again. I will not get to watch her delight in Halloween as the littlest trick or treaters struggle up to the door. My life will be so much emptier. No more hair day. No more Comerica Bank and fighting over the pneumatic tube that will "steal her money" at the drive through. No more scrambling to cover her as she lets an insulting remark fly in public. What will I do now?
A few paragraphs written and ninety minutes later, we're still real good, thank you. Just breathing and breathing and Christian music and the fan humming white noise. My fingers tapping on the keyboard as my mind floods with memories. Scotch and water before Saturday grocery shopping. Lawrence Welk on the TV and Englebert Humperdink on the hi-fi. My Gramps painting her nails for her and laughing as she waved them in the air like windmills to dry them. Alfred Dunner slacks in "petique" because they fit just right. Gold "tongs" from Hawaii that she wore on her feet in the summer. The bellow: "My kitchen is closed for the night!" as my Gramps and I raided the freezer for ice cream. Monday was warsh day. Warsh - not wash. She was born in Mizz-or-rah. Her birth certificate says her first name is Lola. She loved my dogs. She worshiped my daughter and bragged to everyone about my son. My husband is "the only one who does right by her". She was the most meticulous person I ever knew. Heaven is about to be a hell of a lot cleaner.
It's 3am now. Her legs are cool and mottled. I wonder what is happening in the place she's in right now? Is she seeing the people she loves? Is there really no pain? Is she reliving the moments that made up her life? Her breathing has become more shallow. I catch myself holding my own breath, willing her to go and be at peace. She looks so tiny in this bed. The sheets are soft, and for that I am grateful. No one should have to die on crappy hospital sheets. I finally put my iPod on so I can hear Roxy Music instead of Adult Christian. I knew that station would wear out it's welcome eventually. It's hot in here, and I wish for the millionth time it was spring so I could open a window. The moon is gorgeous and full, and Beth would be the first to tell me that Mercury is in retrograde. I didn't even need the website to tell me that. I will miss sharing our daily horoscope with Nana. I will miss her telling me I was the best birthday present she ever got. I will miss our wine and wheat thins. This is a friend that is so hard to let go.
This is a life well lived. This is a person well loved. I will miss her more than she will ever know. I will treasure this night alone with her for the rest of my days.
I will be real good again someday, because that is how she would want it.