Tuesday, September 19, 2017
I don't got this...
It’s been a full day out here in the country. Nurses come and go. The aide comes and goes. My daughter comes and goes. The pastor comes by and also the social worker. They go into Riley’s room and check on how he is doing. When each returns to the living room, I ask if he responded. They all have a negative response. Sometimes he opens his eyes just to a squint or a slit whichever you want to call it.
I can’t sleep in my bed because I want to know who is here and who has left. So I lay on the sofa and drift in and out. Several times during the day I’m told to rest. “Just rest. We got this.” They’ve got this. But I don’t “got” this. I flounder around the house and roam from room to room. I open and close the fridge. I’m not hungry. I wipe off the counter tops with bleach and then wipe them dry. One bread crumb and I grab my spray bottle.
Papers are strewn over the coffee table, end table and desktop. They are what needs to be sorted and organized for the Veterans Administration. I straighten them as I pass by, but then spread them out again. I have bits and pieces of my new novel in scraps of paper waiting to be entered into the manuscript. Post-a-notes keep me organized as to all the players in my imaginary world that’s coming to life inside my computer and is just about ready to give birth. Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife sequel is another stack of papers on the printer table. I don’t need any post-it to keep track of those characters.
I’ve been encouraged to video record Riley’s end of days. But, really, there is nothing to record. Unless of course I should have recorded his attempts to shove me out of the way and yell that I’m poisoning him. Maybe I should have recorded his attempts to block anyone from giving him the medication that keeps him calm. That was last night. Tonight is different.
Over the past two years, Riley has been bed bound. Each night when I would “tuck” him into bed and give him nighttime meds, he would say to me “I love you Linny.” Sometimes he would change it up and say “I care about you.” I would become irritated every time he said it because I knew he loved me because I was the only woman left standing out of many. He cared about me because I was the only one who kept the poop from clinging to his butt. I knew it. There was no profound revelation that I was the only woman who had ever loved him enough to take him back in when there was no love left. It was just that he had worn all the others out, driven them away, they were not inclined to put up with his tom-cat attitude.
Tonight there was no “I love you, Linny.” Tonight he lay in his bed and emits an awful death rattle. He breaths in very slowly and then stops as if he is holding his breath. But there is a gurgle in his throat. It sounds like he needs to cough it up. He isn’t conscious enough or strong enough to make the cough happen. I don’t miss the nighttime declaration. I won’t pretend to believe that he is sincere. I’ve fallen victim to that way too many times. Even on his death bed, I just don’t believe it.
When he is a bit more alert, he is hallucinating. I’m not Linda then. I’m his mother or his first wife. He proclaims his love for them. She cries out for Mother to please say the prayer with him. We have discovered that as part of his childhood bedtime routine was to say the Lord’s Prayer before going to bed. We oblige him and recite the prayer for him. It seems to calm him so that we can next his next dose of morphine into his mouth.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those
Who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
at 1:26 AM