Daddy continues to decline. He has fallen several times now, and they are becoming more frequent. Fortunately, we are able to attempt to control his pain. Though since he is largely non-communicative, I can only hope that it is controlled.
This weekend, two branches of my gigantic family came in to see him. Though he does much better with fewer visitors, it did make mama and me feel better. My cousin, A, and her husband, O, drove up to the ranch and brought their puppy, Gizmo. Gizmo went with us to see daddy. O put Gizmo on the bed, and kept explaining to Daddy who it was. And then he took Daddy’s hand and helped him pet Gizmo over and over. It was so gentle and tender, it may just be the best thing that has happened since February 5, when all this started. It was about the first time I smiled and felt sunshine in my soul since then, anyway. I plan on taking Cody to see him tomorrow. Though I sincerely doubt Cody can fit on the bed with him…
Daddy was able to acknowledge all of the out-of-town folk, and respond with usually one word answers of varying clarity. He looked at Mama, told her he loved her. And honestly, if I can’t get everything I want in this situation (And I can’t.) this was more important. But to me, his only response was to look at me and seemingly deliberately close his eyes and turn his head. I’m trying very hard to not take anything from that. My heart is simply not ready to think that I will never hear his greeting (“Hey! Bear!” or “Miss Bear!” or “It’s The Bear!”) again. We are so close, so very much alike, it feels like a part of my soul is withering away, dissolving.
And so I sat down tonight and looked at the newsfeed, and see that we are not the only family who has a loved one on hospice tonight. I am not going to fuel things by naming the family, I’m pretty sure you can look at the headlines and figure it out. This family has a values system and a theology (“theology”, rather) with which I do NOT agree. They have done things in the name of their ideas that I find utterly repugnant, that visibly anger me. But over time, my thoughts have become nuanced. I feel no hate for them. I feel anger at their actions. I feel enormous pity. Their faith is a faith in anger and hate. I have faith in a God that is loving, graceful, and hopeful. We have Hope. We have Love. Their faith seems unwilling to let that Grace and Hope in. Their ideas of God’s “hate” crowd out all Light. I cannot imagine how joyless their world must be. Otherwise they would mention life, birth, growth in their message. They mention only death and hopelessness.
You might imagine that their continual message of death would have prepared them to lose someone central to them, someone they may love. But I doubt it. Because 16 years ago, we learned in a very big way that our family was on borrowed time. That one day, and probably sooner than usual, we would be in this place. We watched those who transplanted before us and those after us be called Home. We should have known. Maybe I think that we should have been more prepared. I don’t know what I think right now. But we did not know, really, and we are not ready.
We are exhausted. I bet they are exhausted. Even under hospice care, the watch does not end. The phone still rings, and in turn our hearts race and stomachs knot. Sleep comes and then flits away. We cannot risk taking anything to help us rest, because the phone might ring.
We see Daddy shrinking before us. Not the same man. We want desperately to protect him from…I’m not sure of the word…but we also want people to see him if they wish, for him to see people if he can. That’s a razor’s edge to walk, folks. We don’t want Daddy to be a spectacle, but we want him to be remembered. I am absolutely certain that there is at least a tiny spot in one of their souls that wants to shelter and protect their loved one. That will want to be able to grieve in peace. That will wish this would all JUST GO AWAY. (I have the JUST GO AWAY thought approximately every thirty-seven seconds, FYI.) I cannot blame them.
So maybe we leave them be. Let them have the quiet. Call it “ignoring them”, if you want. Call it “let the dead bury their dead” if you want. Call it “payback” if you want. Feel superior, if you want. But knowing what they are going through, I’m just going to let them alone. And not care what it’s called.
PS-Obviously, I cannot tell you and will not tell you what to think or believe. Your feelings may be different. That’s okay.