Monday, June 12, 2006

Quiet Time

While I find Bea’s chatty periods difficult because they deprive me of sleep, even harder are the silent days, when she stays awake but does not wish to communicate. At such times, she will turn her head towards the wall. If I try and engage her in conversation, she will answer in monosyllables. Should I suggest listening to music, she will mutter, “Let me sleep.”

Today is one of those days. I watch Bea close her eyes but know she’s pretending. She has been sleeping for three days and nights in a row. I recognize the look on her face. Yes, here it comes: “Go away and let me sleep.”

Now “quiet” is not an adjective I would have ever applied to Bea. However, she stays “quiet” all morning. I cannot help but wonder what is going through her mind. Has she been thinking about the approach of death? Is she afraid? Or, is she looking back over her life, at the good times and there were many? Back, or forward?

Lisa tries to rouse her at lunchtime: “Don’t you want to tell me one of your wonderful stories?”

Bea indicates she does not: “Leave me alone.”

Lisa’s cheerfulness is not welcome today.

Bea is on Celexa, a mild anti-depressant. Elderly people can get depressed, too, Dr. Millhofer explained.

Later I go back into the room and, sure enough, Bea lies there with her eyes open, staring into space, not at all the vibrant person we are all used to. I offer a glass of orange juice. She drinks it down.

“You’re feeling sad,” I remark, kissing her forehead.

“Yes, sad.”

“Can I do anything for you?”

“Thank you, dear. No. Just being here, I appreciate that very much.” She closes her eyes again.

“Well, I’m right next door if you need me.”

Bea just wants solitude. Caregivers need to respect that wish, too.


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