Friday, September 16, 2011
Goodbye, Norma Jean
Years of dementia. Years of wasting away. Years of slowing being erased. Her brother, sister in law, nephew left to get a bite to eat. They'd be back in just a while. The hospice nurse came in to check. Perhaps we could give her some more morphine. She'd check. This was the nice hospice nurse. Not the evil witch I cussed out two weeks ago when the turn came, when she saved Jean from a fever of 105F and seizures, when she gave me the reputation as being the kind of person who will cuss out a nurse for saving a patient's life. Yep. That's me. Yep, I know that's standard procedure. Yep, I don't care. It was an Oscar worthy moment. If life gave Oscars, I earned mine that night. I was patient at first, just trying to understand the why of it. Where in the file was the error, so I could fix that page, so no one saved her life again. The error was the nurse never looked at that page, or any page. Never looked at the file. Never even stopped to think about it. I know I was verbally on that night. I can't think right now exactly what I said, but I did thank her for making sure that Jean could now die even more slowly and painfully than she was already dying. The rest of it included lots of really bad words. For the next two weeks, I didn't have to ask twice for anything. After all is said and done, I'm sorry for whatever suffering Jean endured, but I'm grateful for those last few times Donna was able to share with her. I'm grateful I was able to be there for her. I'm grateful for all Jean did for me. Donna held one hand. I held the other. Donna was telling me about Alaska. "You should go. You should take the cruise up there and then just stay. You'd love it." A breath went in. "I promised her I'd drive the Oregon coast." I said. A breath went out. It wasn't at all labored. Just slow. "I could just drive from San Francisco to Portland, then cruise up to Alaska from there." Breathe in. "There are lot more men than women up there - you should love it." Donna added. Breathe out. "Yeah, but it's cold." Breathe in. "Do you think you could handle the darkness all winter?" Breathe out. "No. But I could totally love the sunshine all summer." Nothing. Norma Jean Tyson strolled the golden road home. She called it that. - the path the full moon makes on water. That's the path you walk to home at the end of your days.