There are stories we hear of the shadows of death…
That dark place we live in while the lives of those around us tick closer to the end of their time. The cold place where there is pain and fear and sorrow; the scary place with grief and loss that begins even while they’re still alive. If you know they are dying, you won’t know when. There is no date. No time. You become obsessed with it; engorged in the fear of finding them that way; enraged by your inability to save them.
You get lost in trying to be strong for them, you resent them for leaving you. You resent you for not being strong enough to deal. You become a shell of a being, trying to pour all the life you’ve got into the life they’re losing. You watch their chest rise and fall. You check on them all night long; repeatedly. You yourself become the living dead.
You age years in spans of weeks. You get angry with your family for not coming around more to help you cope, but you don’t ask. You do it all. You are most angry that no one comes to see Him, to help HIM. Show him he is not alone. He has you. He tells you that over and over, that he has always been able to count on it being him and you. You show him every day how true that is.
You prepare food in hopes he can eat. He hardly can. You wonder when this will end. Hope it never does. Hope someday soon a Dr. can tell you he is getting better that all will be okay. You hope together that there are 20 more years to live. That doesn’t happen. You live your worst nightmares every day. With every breath you take, you are afraid; knowing despite hope that there is no miracle on the horizon.
The kiss of death is cold and numbing. His presence ever powerful stays with you for ages. You feel him creeping like the weather changing from dry to wet, from warm to cold. Invisible, yet real. Painful, yet comforting all in the same.
I first awoke to the reality of death in the fall of 2010. It was the middle of the night in a hospital in Franklin, Indiana. The nurse got onto me for getting up to pee. She asked if I realized how serious this was. DVT meant I couldn’t walk on my leg at all. (not that I could, for sake of pain anyway.) She asked if I realized I could die. What I had could be fatal. I was there alone. My father was too sick to travel. Mother; too broke. Brothers said they would come if it was dire, but as it was, they didn’t see making the trip. They didn’t realize.
I had my boyfriend. We had neighbors and friends. We would need them in the coming months. They were amazing. They were instrumental in being that family that I had so far away. I talked to my Daddy on the phone quite often. He could hear the pain in my voice, and it hurt him deeply that he could not come. I could sense it from him. He was disappointed that he hadn’t come to see me sooner.
In the following weeks, as I lived in constant agony, a Charlie horse from calf to toes 24-7 and worse if I tried to walk on it… I sat at home in my apartment, never able to leave, having daily blood draws from a home health nurse. I couldn’t get up and down the steps to our second story apartment, so I for once was the patient to the nurse when I was so used to being the nurse to the home care patients. (The aide, at least.)
The reality of death loomed in and out of focus, until that fateful day I shall remember forever. January 23, 2011… The first day of the short rest of my father’s life…. The day I ultimately decided to give my life for his and though he has been gone for nearly 2 years, my life is still pending.