My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law (don’t think too hard about it) is dying. She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and is now is at the end of her life. She is in hospice with her family gathered. She is not responsive. Everyone is waiting. It is hard to think about. How can you be here alive one minute and gone the next. Everyone is waiting for that moment when she lets go.
Even though I am not close to this person I have been thinking about her everyday. Her consciousness is gone but her family suffers still. Not wanting to leave her alone for a minute but essentially sitting with someone who is already dead. They are waiting until she no longer takes a breath and her heart no longer beats. I feel so much sympathy for them. The waiting is hard.
It makes me think about my own mother’s death. Hers seemed to be much quicker. Once she was in the hospital she began to sleep more and more until she just slipped away without a word. I sat with my brother. Waiting together. Making small talk and thinking about the past. When she took her last breath I disconnected the oxygen mask as then the room was quiet. I touched her hand and smoothed her hair. I waited for a few minutes and then went to tell the nurse that my mother had died.
There was much business after that. Phone calls to be made. Possessions to be gathered. Forms to be signed. We left the hospital with her things and drove home.
It still seems unreal. I still feel like when the phone rings it will be her. I still think I have to call her to share some new story about my kids. In a way she is still alive.
I don’t know why I write this – only to let my sister-in-law know that we are thinking of her. I know there is nothing anyone can do, but I share this experience with her now. And that I know it is hard.
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