Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Note:  the title should actually have been day TWELVE of hospice, but in my general exhaustion, I got the number wrong.  I didn't want to change it because it would have to be reposted).

Genesis 2:7 reads, "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being."

God breathed into this dust-based earth-creature the breath of life--and then, and only then, did this lump of dust turn into something human.

Breaths, breathing, air, life . . . Mother now only breathes 30 seconds out of every minute. I just took a short nap, or at least tried to, on the couch near her bed. But I kept waking up because I kept NOT hearing her breathe. She just stops.

A few minutes ago, her caregiver came to give her a bath, something that had become the high point of my mother's day. The two of us stood over her bed, talking to her, talking about her, touching her, and watching her not breathe.  Even that much conversation, touching, movement, noise did not rouse her.  She is being bathed right now; still no response, other than the 30 seconds on/30 seconds off.  The caregiver immediately phoned her supervisor and asked once again that she be evaluated for continuous care stating a major decline in the last 24 hours.  We both think she has lost her sight.  I do know she can still hear, and they all say this is the last sense to go.

Why can't they hear me when I ask for this?  Why are my words so disregarded?  Someone came last night and checked her out, and apparently Mother managed to open her eyes once and give some mumbled response. That was enough for them to say, "nope.  No continuous care yet."

My sons keep calling, checking on me; checking on her.  I sense their anxiety.  What can they do to help?  They've already done so much. They came; they talked and laughed with her; they offered their hugs and love to me.  They hung out with each other in their adulthood way, but still ribbing each other the way they did as younger boys.

The four of us, my three sons and me, played a few games of bridge together Sunday afternoon.  Ours is a bridge playing family.  My dad was a Grand Master.  My brother, sister and I all learned to play when we were young, and so did my own sons.  We're also a VERY COMPETITIVE family, so games tend toward the cutthroat.  

The three boys and the one spouse here had played the night before, and the two younger ones had pretty well slaughtered the oldest.  So, when the four of us sat down to play, and I mentioned that I'm more than rusty with my game, the two youngest immediately saw their chance:  they paired me with the oldest, Jonathan, figuring they would bury us.

We all overbid, most hands went down.  Play was aggressive, as usual.  Jonathan and I finally got some cards, and a few hands that fit.  We ended up leaving them choking on our dust, and we gleefully gave the high five across the table.

Yes, we left in them our dust. Dust, the stuff that gathers in little used corners and builds surreptitiously on the tops of refrigerators and tall bookcases.  Dust, the stuff that humans are made of.  Dust, that which needs the breath of God to bring to life.  And the breath is quickly leaving my mother as she too makes her return to dust.

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