Bea Loses the Ability to Swallow
Dysphasia is what Bea now has. It is common in elderly bedridden folk at the end of life. When she tries to swallow water, her throat makes a gurgle that leaves her brow furrowed with surprise, a new development, recognized by professionals as one of the last circles my mother will make prior to landing.
I spend a lot of time by her bedside.
BEA: “Why are you so nice to me?”
ME: “Because I love you?”
BEA: “Are you my mama?”
ME: “I take care of you, so I guess that’s like being your mama.”
Nurse Jane comes to visit and provides counsel on how to keep Bea as comfortable as possible in the days she has left. We will try to continue fluids, despite the dysphasia.
“It may just be your time, Bea,” Jane says, pragmatic as ever.
For once my mother seems ready, at last, to accept this permission to die.
“I’m very old,” she croaks. “Now leave me alone.”
We follow orders, leaving her propped up in bed, swaddled in down.