Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dying

My grandfather lies in his bed at my mother's house, dying we all know. We do not know how long it will be, and we do not know exactly how it will happen. But, we do know that is on the way. Much, much more than before.
The nurse from Hospice says it could still be a while. Then, he admits he has no idea, and it could even be tomorrow. That is how it is with these patients, he says. That is how it is with life, I think.
He looks so old and frail, my Pop. After all, I tell myself...he is 92 years old. That is a long fucking time. The world was a very different place when he was a boy. I used to think I would die young, such is the life of an addict. I did not want to live to be old, I used to say. But, that was a long, long time ago when I felt I would live forever.
I watch the expression on his face, as tears well up in his eyes. This has been happening off and on for the last ten years. Pop just gets teary very easily. But, this time it is different. It is no longer purely sentimental. I think that now I can see fear behind his eyes.
And I wonder what he is thinking. I wonder what it feels like to know that the end is near. I wonder if it is better to not even see it coming. I wonder if he thinks about what may be next. The inevitable question that skates around in our minds all of our lives must be amplified in the dying. Is something else really out there after this life, or is all just dark? Do we have a soul, and is there a God? And if there is, do I believe in the right one? Have I done enough good in my life, and does regret lay heavy on me?
I wonder what it will take for me to be at peace with dying? Will I go out with a fight, or will I go out with resolve? I think that even for the most pious man with firm belief there must be some doubt about the afterlife. It seems only natural to me, but then maybe I need more faith. Maybe I am just not that religious.
I hate to see him so withered and dying. He has always been so strong to me. Even a couple of weeks ago, he was doing pretty good for 92...and now, the obvious has come true. It is the end. He is uncomfortable, and we are all breaking with his pain too. The time is fast approaching, and I am not ready. He must be ready as he lies uncomfortable in his bed. He must be ready as he cannot do much of anything these days. Selfishly, I do not want to see him go.
And until recently, he has not wanted to go either. I still think he does not want to go. He must be afraid about what is to inevitably come. But, he is miserable here. Compared to what he used to be, he is whithered and crippled. His voice is sometimes barely audible. His breathing is labored at times, and he cannot keep food down. I think it is a difficult choice...do you keep fighting for something that has become more painful than good? Or do you come to terms with it, and just let go? I just want him to be without suffering, but not as much as I want him to still be here sitting in his chair listening to Fox News.

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