and the meaning of it all?
The nurses turn her every two hours to keep her from drowning in her own fluids.
Not so she won’t die, but so she won’t die that way.
Can she see you?
Can she hear you?
First, you play marches. Because she always played Sousa while she did housework, however infrequent that was.
Then you play waltzes. Because she always played Strauss while she sewed your clothes. And argued about the hem.
Finally Enya, because you think it sounds like the angels she must surely be hearing by now.
You sit by her side for two days.
Try to forget her last words before the coma.
The sisters come.
They want to talk about funny things. Happy memories you don’t share.
Glycerin swabs. Alternating air-pressure mattress. Things you didn’t know existed until hospice.
Ragged breath. Ragged breath.
She won’t quit. Has no idea how.
The nurses find roll-away beds for everyone.
You go home to construct Easter baskets for the kids. You’ll be back in an hour, tops.
Elbow deep in chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.
The phone rings.
She sneaked away behind your back.
You knew she would.
Before, you had no place to deposit your pain. It laid in your gut, undigested.
Now, you write.
And your pain reflects the human condition, speaks to hundreds, to thousands of others who suffer. It helps me recognize myself in you. What a gift it is to be a writer, and make everyone feel a little less alone.
Easter Blessings to you all.