Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Don't Know If It's Really Goodbye

Marcie's parents just left. The late-night visit was inspired Marcie's weak, but suddenly clear announcement, "I am dying, honey."
After I gulped that down, I decided to make sure I knew what she was telling me. They were strange words for her first clear ones in a day. She had had a good breakfast, and slept a lot, but she had had a generally good day otherwise.
"I know, Marcie," I said. "You're in hospice and I know what that..."
"Nnnnnmmm," and her pained frown, a weak turn of the head. Something else. Something I suddenly knew.
"You mean you are dying right this moment?" I asked.
I let her nod, her eyes closed tight, her lips closed, another frown. She wanted me to stop playing dumb. But tonight, for the first time, I wanted to hide in the dull shelter of ignorance.
"I'm dying right now," Marcie repeated, straining for clear diction against thirteen brain tumors, a throat full of ash and mucus, and her general weakness.
"Okay, honey," I said. "But not just yet, okay?"
She nodded and was quiet. Her breathing was ragged, as it has been for a day or two. Her face, pinched in a way I have refused to notice but now cannot deny.
All my illusions and delusions of progress from her decent morning? Thoroughly dispelled.
I called her parents when my throat was clear enough to. They came over immediately. Bob and Barbara each sat with her for a bit, then left in tears. I only hope they get home safely.