Tuesday, October 11, 2016


On the eve of the 18th anniversary of my brother's death, dining with grandma, I wondered: will this be our last supper? Another question I've pondered: is it harder to lose a loved one suddenly and unexpectedly or to watch them wither away slowly? Having experienced the former and currently the latter, I still don't have a definitive answer. They're both difficult to assimilate. 

While grandma remains incarnate, the inevitable nears. Every movement expends her energy tremendously. Laborious breath after laborious breath, lungs, like old balloons with minimal elasticity no longer inflate to previous capacity. No medical knowledge, background or experience can prepare one for witnessing life slowly escaping a loved one. Painful as it is, respecting and accepting reality gives way to resolve. I suppose that is the gift of being able to say goodbye - resolve. 

Last week, following her shower, I sat on the bathroom floor drying her feet.  Though not a particularly religious person, a vague memory of a biblical story: "Jesus washed someone's feet? Was it the other way around? Mhm... no se." Next: Visions, like a movie reel, of patients I've helped similarly flashed before me. Accompanying thoughts circled through my mind, of where those patients might be now? Connecting dot after dot, following decisions and experiences that prepared me .... 

Then she kissed the crown of my head. No words followed, just her cute giggle and a sincere smile. Few moments are humbling and equally empowering - this was one.

I am where I need to be - present.