We had the same 4 conversations five times. The visit lasted all of two hours. At first I didn’t mind because they were good conversations. But everytime she asked me the question she’d asked me just moments before with the same excited anticipation , a little bit in me died. With the look in her eyes of someone that was honestly awaiting an answer she did not already have, that look began to hammer the nails in the coffin. My great aunt IS 95 years old so I suppose it should come as no surprise and everyone has stories they like to retell especially at that age. But when the story you’re retelling is of how your last dog died by breaking his neck and the droplets of blood that spilled from his mouth -see that’s when you knew he was dead; you at first thought he was sleep.When you picked his little body up off the ground, how his neck rolled and wobbled from side to side- see that’s how you knew he’d broken his neck- how he’d always try to jump up on the sofa when you got off the couch but he had a bad foot. So when you’d gone to bed the night before, it was a cold winter night and his bad foot had been bothering him. When you first found Precious, he was a stray puppy that lived under a bush near where you went to have your car washed. You noticed he walked with a limp foot so you’d taken him in and splinted his leg until it healed. Oh the adventures he’d had through the years roaming the neighborhood during the day, the good company he was. He always tried to jump up on the couch when you left the room. That night his foot had been hurting because it was cold. He must’ve tried to jump up on the couch…
When you woke up, he wasn’t at your bedside greeting you and barking. So you walked into the den and saw him lying in front of the couch. Lazy dog -you scolded him see because you thought he was just sleep.
That’s not a story you want to hear 5 times in grave detail, in bits and pieces or maybe even at all. Except you’d listen the first time certainly out of curiosity to discover what caused Precious’s demise. The second time becuase it was just weaved into the conversation and there are some details that were left out. Maybe telling the story is just therapy -I thought as the story came around a third time.
But when it comes back around again and again you realize the tale of Precious’s demise is simply macabre. Maybe if she weren’t the most delightful story teller, it wouldn’t have been so bad. You see -To witness such an amazing mind go, stuck in an infinitely loop of death, is even worse than seeing her still beautiful eyes molded in a now collapsed face, and that now very emaciated body that frames such a beautifully strong spirit.
So I looked up the side effects of Coumadin to see if that may affect the brain. It attacks so many other things though… I understand at that close to a century old, one is surely on borrowed time. However it still hurts so deeply to watch someone you love so much…waste away.
Some would say celebrate life. Yet as you watch someone deteriorate, I can’t help but wonder, is it wrong to greive the living?
How can you not?
Death is such an integral part of life.