“Now this is a serious development,” Bea tells her daughter-in-law Betsy Krogh, who is visiting. “Because I may die.” Her voice is deeper than usual, and hoarse, but her mind is totally clear.
My brother, Nick, joins them. He leans in close to her bed, elbows on the rails. Nick has always been close to Bea. I am glad they have this time together.
“I want to congratulate you two on the way you handled Ben,” Bea says in her new, deeper voice, referring to their son who has Down Syndrome.
I hear them chatting about this and that. Vassar is mentioned several times. My brother was the first son of an alumna to be accepted at the college. Bea is alert and welcomes the company of people who are dear to her.
In the morning, the cold seems worse. Bea has a lot of phlegm and is coughing. Pneumonia is the specter that hovers in the back of our minds. Her weakened body cannot fend off germs. I look forward to Lisa’s visit since I feel at a loss. Hospice has experience with this type of situation.
Yesterday, on the highway back from the airport, I enjoyed the freedom from the constant attentiveness and worry elderly care entails. I knew my sister-in-law was there by Bea’s bedside, ready to respond to any crisis that might arise. I am supposed to have a holiday today, too, but find myself unable to leave.
Bea’s death is inevitable. We all die. That is part of the life experience. Still, the idea of losing her is difficult to accept.