I forgot to say what made me 'come out' with this blog now. Betty has been in hospice 8 months (and 9 roomates.)
Maurice the 6'4 (cool-drink-of-water, lanky, funny and kind) hospice nurse confirmed what I knew. "It could be days but probably weeks now. Betty is changing."
Last evening I visited her. She was so afraid. Her skin was more alabaster than usual; her eyes had deepened and hollowed, she was holding on to the railing of her bed - even after an anti-anxiety and morphine oral syringe early that morning.
She would not talk to me.
"What is it?" I could see the world had shifted on her axis.
"I feel fine" was the matra. It was not working.
She held out her arm to me to show off her bracelets in a desperate (and feeble) attempt to distract me from noticing her dismay. (You know, like when you are broken up, sucking it up and a kind word starts you choking up?)
She was trying to hold it together with pieces that did not fit and no worldly glue in the cupboard.
I crawled into bed with her; I slid between the railing and the food tray to let my body, assure her body, which I came from, without words. I started feeding her spoonfuls, (and like my mother taught me,) I started with the ice cream.
"You know you are awesome. I remember."
"You had a kick-ass life. You are smart, generous, kind, courageous and gorgeous- all true. In short - awesome"
Even from the tight angle I was hugging her from, I could see the corners of her mouth turn up. She squeezed by hand.
"And is not just me that thinks so" I pulled out my iPhone and dialed Leanne. She was an adopted daughter of my mother's choosing. A girl in the office that turned into a mentored colleague, then friend, then deeper. I dialed her in Oklahoma and put it on speakerphone.
"Hello Eleesa, How are you?" She was one of those special people that shoved real authenticity and empathy into the commonest of greetings"
Betty's mouth started to talk but no words came out. "Betty and I are just laying around, in bed, eating good food with love all around us."
"Hi, Betty - That's what I would expect from you, girl: living the good life." She really meant it- strength and joy was in her voice. She is a connector a living matrix or maybe a circus safety net - but it is of love. I did not see it until I was well into 5 years of caring for my mother.
"I need corroboration to the fact that Betty is AWESOME" I was able to say this with no catch in my voice. I connected with Leanne over the digital connection - the waves and particles were strengthening me now.
"Well, that's an easy one - she IS AWESOME - her whole life was awesome - all her husbands agreed, she was beautiful and awesome"
My mothers mouth was in full smile. She relaxed. She squeezed my hand.
We hung up and I did he same thing with my younger brother Ted. He answered and Betty was smiling before he ever to the word awesome.
After we hung up, Leanne sent photos and a video. We watched the the video of a sunset on a lake in Oklahoma from our San Francisco hospice bed - there was the sound of wind on the video.
" Listen, honey, it is the sound of the Oklahoma wind during the sunset and she said the first full sentence of the night.
" I miss that"
She fell deeply asleep