My best friend’s mother is dying and it’s not a pretty death. At 93 years old, her heart still beats strong and she has rallied from many other ER visits. But not this one. It’s a matter of time before she passes. She has an infection and her body has become septic. The infection has made her unstable, unable to tolerate the surgery needed to fix the cause of the infection. My friend is overwhelmed by the situation — every cell in her body wants to do everything possible to save her mother’s life but she knows there’s noting to b done. Her feelings of loss almost render her paralyzed but she overcame them to focus on her mother and what’s best.
er mother has been difficult for the past few years and, quite frankly, was a most unpleasant woman for most of the 25 years I’ve known her. Yet I feel a sense of loss for the fiesty irritational woman she once was. The essence of who she is no longer lives in this body. We agree that the primary objective is comfort, a morphine drip to reduce her pain, nothing else. I leave my friend alone to say good by to her mother’s body, to say whatever’s in her heart one last time. How sad that her mother can neither hear her nor can she tell her daughter any final words.
It is our responsibility to ensure that her final days are dignified. Dying with dignity should be a basic right but humans are selfish in their moments of loss, aren’t we?
I’m in no mood for the Ugly Sweater Holiday party so I update the Man on the way home. I’m sad, emotional, in no mood to party, I’m sorry. What do you need, he asks. It warms my heart that he asks. Um, alcohol. Wine or vodka? Yes — but not really. I’m too emotionally raw to drink that much. I don’t want an alcohol-induced meltdown. Sex. Not a problem. Depending on the alcohol I m not sure about sex but I like the thought.
I arrive home to a big glass of wine and a really ugly sweater! and a bear hug. The kind of warm strong hug that says “go ahead. Feel the loss.” We cuddle on the sofa, my ear pressed against his chest, listening to his heartbeat as we talk love, loss, death and grief. We feel loss so deeply, I wonder why we don’t feel love as deeply. Maybe we do but we forget or take love for granted.
Grieving for my friend’s loss compels me to feel the human connections of love, of intimacy, of physical closeness more. I think we want to fill the void caused by loss with the positives of human connection. In this moment I’m comforted by his heartbeat even as mine is breaking.