I-

Have you ever watched a loved one die?

I mean- really watched it. Stared into their beautiful eyes as the light faded, witnessed that transition from ‘I see you’ to ‘I don’t.’

Have you ever held a loved one’s hand as they lay on the shitty, scratchy cotton of the cheap hospital bed sheets? Have you ever ran your fingers through their fine, sparse hair and spoken honest words of love?

I mean- really spoken them. Said everything you ever wanted and needed to say, from ‘I love you’ to ‘I’m afraid.’

Have you ever heard the final words of a loved one while they are on the very brink of death? Have you ever listened to their raw, raspy words, all the while knowing that they would be the very last of their beautiful words that you would ever hear?

I mean- really listened to them. Waited patiently while they said everything they ever wanted and needed to say, from ‘I love you’ to ‘I’m afraid.’

I ask, because… I haven’t. 

I wasn’t there when my loved one laid alone on the shitty, scratchy, cotton of the cheap hospital bed sheets. 

I wasn’t there to look into their eyes or hold their hand or run my fingers through their hair or listen or speak. 

I wasn’t there-I should have been there, but I wasn’t- I wasn’t, I wasn’t there for you, oh, God, I wasn’t there, I wasn’t there, I-

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27 thoughts on “I-

  1. I have a friend who is an aged care nurse.
    She cares for people who can no longer look after any aspect of their lives without help. Help to eat, help to clean themselves, help to shit and help to clean up. Their lives once full of happy families, large homes and tokens of success, decanted into a 12 foot square room with machines that beep a constant reminder that life is still somehow in residence as well.
    No chance of ever regaining the lost youth or healthy life.
    Yet they cling to life with such energy, I sometimes wonder if spending that energy was the thing that brought them so close to the end.
    My friend sometimes whispers gently, in their ear “it’s ok to go”… and they leave, at peace, no more struggling to remain.

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  2. I was there. For my grandfather. I am only comforted by the fact that he knew we were with him. He didn’t go to sleep alone. For those of us left behind, it will be that final awful moment that we remember most keenly. And that is what I wish I could forget.

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  3. I was there and now I have this awful memory of them that I cannot erase. To see someone actually die is the worst possibly thing you can ever witness. I wish I hadn’t been there. They never knew I was there anyway. πŸ™

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    • I’m so sorry to hear that you have such a terrible burden of a memory. I think that is the most powerful form of love, though. To be there with somebody in that moment, to not turn away. You’re very brave.

      On some level, I think they knew.

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      • It really was awful… I guess I had always just envisioned what they show in the movies when somebody dies. Reality is a game changer. I hope she knew as I begged her not to die. I hope she knew as I stood in the corner of the room watching the doctors try to restart her heart for the 4th time. I hope she knew when I held her hand and prayed the most intense prayer I ever have. I really hope she knew. πŸ™

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      • I hope so and thank you. I don’t feel remarkable, just sad that my hubby had to lose his sister. It’s hard to lose somebody before it seems like it should be their time to go.

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  4. My mother cared for her husband for several months at home when he was terminally ill. She was ther almost every moment during 100 days… The one moment she went out the grocery store one day, is when he died. Almost like he “wanted” to “spare” her…

    These things are out of our control. I so very much feel the pain in your writing. If you loved each other in life, this person knew it, I think… still, So sorry for the pain and loss described here. I understand the need to be there, I wasn’t either, many times.
    Hugs and I wish you healing after your grief. πŸ’”

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  5. I was there Jamie. Watching my mother die, helpless to do anything about it, listening to her demanding more air, watching her roll her eyes in despair when the doctors were saying there was nothing more they could do, it’s hard. And not being there in that moment I’m sure is hard too, but so long as you loved them, then that is all that matters, and that has not changed no matter where they are right now. ❀🌞

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    • Thank you for the kind words… I don’t think there’s anything easy in any way when someone dies. Slowly or quickly, in their sleep, surrounded by loved ones or alone… None of it seems right. I guess it never can be.

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