Thursday, July 13, 2006

Midsummer Complaint

I go for a walk while Lisa, from Hospice, sits by Bea’s bedside. Bea will sleep for most of the afternoon ...

For the past two days, I have felt as if I were babysitting. Luckily I have other things to do. I field calls about the bed & breakfast and answer emails. I bake, I garden, I write. Still, I cannot help but think I should not be obliged to stay here, almost a prisoner in my own home, that my place is with my husband, now on vacation abroad.

Nurse Jane and Lisa worry about burnout and no wonder. Sven and I have been caring for my elderly parents for 9 years. Bea has been bedridden for 4 ½ months now.

Everyone reacts differently to the approach of death. Bea believes nothing comes afterwards and simply cannot wrap her mind around that idea. So, she resists.

When Bea tells me today that she is tired of living, I say, "You don't have to continue if you don't want to."

"Of course I want to continue living!" she responds.

She seems to think it perfectly normal to have me as a caregiver. I must admit I find it hard to understand her complacence. Personally, I would prefer to die if I were 96 ½, rather than burden family members. In a way, I’ve lost a mother and gained a child at a period of my life that was supposed to be my “golden years.”

So, yes, to those who ask, yes, I do feel resentment at times. But then I go into Bea's room and there she lies in that hospital bed, so fragile and frail, totally helpless, like a baby, and I melt.

Bea looks up at me with gratitude in her eyes and says in a soft voice, “I love you.”

This is what we have been doing all day, expressing love.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Bea’s life will end at some point. No one lives forever.

And I know I will miss her when she is gone …

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