Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This Morning




It's morning. I come downstairs and do what I always do. Coffee. Pull up the window shades. And this particular morning I talk with my friend L who is flying back to Hawaii. How long have you two known each other, the nurse asks. L and I laugh. Three days, she says. But she's known Dan for 50 years, I say.

I tell Dan I'm taking L down the street to catch a shuttle that will take her to LAX. Tell him I'll be right back. Kiss his head. There's activity under his eyelids, and he tries to say something.

When I return I sweep the floor, stopping by his bed, which is in my living room, to kiss him or lay my hand on his head. I tell him I'm back. That his daughter is upstairs. That his family will be here soon. Friends too, maybe, I say.  I unload the dishwasher as quietly as I can. Drink coffee. Take out the trash. Throw in a load of laundry. These are the things that need doing even when there's someone you love lying in your living room actively dying. A hospice phrase. Actively dying. Right now, it seems like Dan and I are dividing that phrase in two.

I talk to him. Read him some of Jack Gilbert's poems. Then I turn my attention to the piles of things on my kitchen island. I take cookies out of their bags and arrange them onto plates. The candy that L brought from Hawaii into bowls. The strawberries that K brought into a bigger bowl. Bright red into green. Beautiful opposites. I peel all the stickers off the bananas so they look prettier. Are these the things a person should do when someone you love is actively dying just across the room? The nurse suggests a basket so all of the morphines and other medicines can be tucked inside instead of strewn across the counter. I pull one out. Perfect, she says. Thank you, I tell her.

Then I settle onto the couch. Open my laptop. I am actively living.

13 comments:

S Kay Murphy said...

This one didn't bring the tears until the last line. Please keep writing these posts. Those of us out here in Cyberland who care about you are feeling helpless. At least I can read your words, which in a way feels like sitting next to you on the couch, patting your shoulder, holding your hand....

mary i said...

I am a non-blogging lurker/fan of yours via "Bless our Hearts" I am not good with words. The lady above me said everything that is needed. Know that I am also with you from Alabama...

Mel said...

Yes, what S said, I'm here too. There is no should do in these situations, but I think that you are showing us the best possible things a person could do, with love and honesty and seeing the beautiful amid the sadness, and sharing all of it with us in such lovely bittersweet words.
xo

ain't for city gals said...

Thinking of you and Dan...I think they could definitely come up with a better phrase than actively dying....

Ms. Moon said...

So much like labor. So much.
You are doing everything right.
My heart is tucked in there with you.

Susan Johnson said...

With you too; your words brought tears...sending thoughts and hugs..����

37paddington said...

Also here with you, moment to moment, in love and awe.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could show up and scrub floors and do laundry and work so you could just sit down and rest.

A said...

The man who loves you is most beautifully loved.

Anonymous said...

I saw a movie last night - a screening - and it referred to the infinity in the moment and I thought a lot about you and Dan and how this moment is filled with such love and honor. You are being held by so many who care. Sweet Jo

Anonymous said...

I am a non-blogging lurker/fan of yours via "Bless our Hearts" just like mary from AL. You seem to be handling this with so much more grace than I did with my Mom. I wish you peace and comfort. Gail

Suz said...

holding you both in loving thoughts

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