It sounds blunt. If I said it aloud, I suppose I would sound heartless and cold. But really, this is nothing new. Her cancer has been steadily deteriorating her health for years now.
But in the past week alone, she's gone from being able to walk around, help with the dishes (no matter how often I insisted that she didn't need to; it made her feel useful) and talking with my parents to being unable to walk or speak. We think she's had a stroke; her right side is basically paralyzed. She tried to get up and walk around yesterday and the day before - and she can't. So now we take shifts staying with her during the night.
My shift tonight is 11:00 through 1:00. Then I go pick up Nicole and her friends and take them home.
I don't cry about it anymore. Truthfully, we're all surprised she's lasted this long - by all accounts and all doctor's predictions, she should have died over a year ago. But she's an incredibly strong little woman, my abuelita.
Even so, this is finally wearing her down. We no longer hope and pray that she will last the night - we hope only that if she doesn't, she will go peacefully. She's on multiple drugs to alleviate pain, including morphine, and so she's not hurting. But it's hard on her. We suspect she can still think properly, though occasionally in the past few years her mind has slipped with old age as can be expected. She'll ask my father how so-and-so is doing, when they died years ago, or she'll do the same task multiple times, forgetting that it's been done. But nonetheless, she's hung on tenaciously through bouts of cancer that many people would not have survived, and managed to keep most of her mental abilities. I miss seeing her eyes sparkle. She used to say I would have to cut my hair and make her a wig; as chemotherapy and age had conspired to make her hair thin. I have an extremely sharp sense of smell. I miss entering her room and being able to smell the soft scent I always associated with her - the soap she likes, a hint of the potpourri in her room, and the smell of her lotion. Now as I sit beside her I smell her wounds, the dressing on them; the medicine, the machine that helps her breathe.
I speak minimal Spanish. I have heard the language all my life; my father's first language is Spanish and my mother is nearly fluent. But they never taught it to us, never saw the need. While I understand that, it means that I was never able to communicate with my abuelita as much as I would have liked. I could understand some of what she said, and often I could grasp the meaning if not the exact words, but I was always unable to answer her, always having to ask my mother or aunt for the words to use. I spoke a borrowed language to a woman I desperately wish I had gotten to know. There are a thousand things I wish I could have asked her. She raised four sons and raised them well. She has more grandchildren than I know of. I want to know what she thinks of them; I wish I could have heard and understood the stories of the funny things they've done, or their conversations.
But she can no longer speak. And so my chances are gone forever. While this saddens me, I really have no more tears. I did my crying over this a long time ago. Now all there is to do is make her life; what is left; peaceful and as comfortable as possible.
This is not something I mention much, if ever, here. perhaps because I'm accustomed to it. It's only recently become this bad for her, and it will only get worse.
I just thought I'd share this.