Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Love to Love

Bea is having trouble breathing.

Lisa has come and gone. She shares our concern, advising us to call Nurse Jane. We place Bea on her side, the way Jane directs over the phone. She will be here at 2:30. In the meantime I try to reassure Bea that she is surrounded by people who love her. My brother Nick, his wife Betsy, and I sit there quietly, by her bedside.

Bea's mouth hangs open. I notice immediately that her eyes are different. The pupils have contracted, so you see mostly powder blue. The boney hands are shaking. In fact, she seems a bit hysterical this morning. I modulate my voice in an effort to mitigate her distress. I know from experience with Sven that nothing produces more panic that difficulty breathing.

Since Bea seems hot, I place a cool washcloth on her forehead. We take her temperature. It is normal. But she isn’t. Bea’s speech, already erratic, has become blurred, not at all clear like yesterday. It is hard to understand what she is trying to say. What’s more, her cough becomes more frequent. The sound is disconcerting.

Bea opens her eyes and whispers, “Why are they here?”

“We are here because we love you,” I say.

“No. Them. Miggits.”

I assume the visitors are back.

By listening carefully I make out the words, “Where is that baby?”

“Baby Juliette?”

Bea nods.

“She lives in LA.”

“I want to see that baby.”

“I do, too, but Juliette lives with her mom and dad, and his job keeps them in LA, remember?”

Nick tells her, “How nice that your spirit, and your genes, will continue through Juliette. She is the next generation.”

Nurse Jane comes before 2:30 and reassures us. She suggests broth to break up the phlegm, and lemonade. We sit Bea up in bed. We feel relief, but remain vigilant. Bea is so frail. Coughing up the phlegm obviously demands quite an effort.

“Why do you take such good care of me?” Bea asks in a faint voice after one especially difficult coughing spell.

“Because we love you,” I respond.

“Love to love,” Bea says softly.

“Love to love,” we repeat in unison.

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