by Bella Rum
My heart is breaking and I continue to wonder how much more our family can take. I have to constantly remind myself that others face the same problems and often under worse circumstances. Human suffering knows no stranger and will not be dissuaded.
My sister is suffering so and sometimes I scream inside, “Leave her be.” But when I believe it can’t get any worse, it only gets worse and worse. These days I wonder a lot about how much battering the human body and spirit can endure before life is so grim one lets go of the fine threads that connect them to life. In these waning days of summer, I’m left wondering if my sister’s life is also on the wane.
She can no longer dress herself, and she has lost control over her bodily functions. She isn’t even aware of when she goes to the bathroom. She has accidents and must be told that it has happened. She has lost almost seventy pounds. My father knows she is ill, but I keep these details from him, and pray that I never have to give him the unbearable news that is a parent’s hell of all hells.
Often now, she isn’t strong enough to talk to me when I call her. My niece called me a few weeks ago and said, “Auntie, I want you to know that Dad says the only time Mom smiles anymore is when she talks to you.” I told my niece that I ‘dance‘ for her. I tell her every crazy thing that every crazy relative of ours is doing. Embellishing each detail, I stretch the truth till it whines, willing to do anything to make her laugh. God knows, I have a front row seat here….perfect to see all the goings on with our aunts and uncles and folks we’ve known since we were babies.
I called her yesterday afternoon. No answer. I left a message telling her that I hoped that the fact that no one was answering the phone meant she was out somewhere doing something fun. A little while later her husband returned my called. He said she was back in the hospital…getting transfusions and fluids. He told me that she cried when she talked to her doctor and told him she was dying and begged him to help her. He said he would. I hope he can.
So these are my unsettling cohorts on this unfriendly night, my familiar mind monsters who will stay by my side till dawn. They will keep me company, refusing to leave; they will offer me cold comfort, remaining my faithful and constant companions till my sister’s suffering comes to an end.