Church Street: Immanuel's Church

Holding Her Hand

More than once today I asked Mom what was going on.

She didn't respond. She hasn't been awake for days; hasn't eaten any food or drunk any appreciable amounts of liquid. She doesn't swallow anymore; the nurses give her meds as liquids slipped under her tongue. She breathes in great gulps, the oxygen tank by the bed gurgling as she drinks in the air.

And yet, she holds my hand. Her thumbs quiver as they press on mine; her eyelids crack open, then close again. She moves her arms, pushing at the covers; she wrinkles her brow, looking troubled.

What's going on in there?

She coughs sometimes, then moans a little, a high-pitched ethereal keening that only lasts a moment. She moves a little, just a little, as if she were trying to change her position or roll on her side, but she can't; she's too weak. Then she relaxes and goes deeper into sleep; she snores softly.

Yes, I took the day off to stay with her today for several hours. I just needed to spend some time by her side, regardless of whether she stays in that body on this earth within this plane of existence for hours, or days, or maybe a couple weeks, although I don't see how she can go on for that long.

(And I know I've said that many times, many times even here on this blog, and you have all been so lovely to me and kept us in your thoughts and prayers, and sometimes I feel like I'm crying "Wolf" and you will get tired of all of it. If that's so, I don't blame you. But still, I have to write about this time in our lives, the middle of mine and the end of hers, so please bear with me, please bear with me.)

I spooned a little thickened water into her mouth today. Did you know that there was such a thing? There is -- lemon-flavored water that's the consistency of molasses. I tasted it. That taste will now forever conjure "nursing home" in my mind. And there's orange juice that's the consistency of honey; I spooned a bit of that in her mouth and she made such a face! So no more of that.

Instead, I held her hand and smoothed her brow, and told her it was okay, and wondered what was going on in there.