Back to reality — and questioning it. Before I left on my little 10-day sabbatical, I knew my sister was in crisis. Her mate of 36 years had a stroke while in the hospital for diabetes-related ailments, but suffered more complications than that.
All of us in the family, all of us and our partners, long ago decided we would never want any excessive measures taken to keep us alive if it came to that point in time. No tubes, no machines — just let us work on our own accord or let us go gracefully.
I love my sister to death but she is not following that edict. As long as her husband is opening his eyes and watching people or scratching his nose, she’s holding out hope of his recovery. Well over a month. I can only say I’m glad I’m not in her shoes.
LOML and I talked about it last night after my most recent conversation with her. It was a conversation I felt really bad about because I’m NOT in her shoes but, as gently as I could, I pointed out her inability to let things go, let alone the man she’s loved all these years. But, how fair is it to let him exist like this? If there really is that hope he could recover, let him do it on his own strength with your encouragement, not technology.
That’s what got Ed and I to talking deeply.
“Technology has made us lose sight of our sensibilities some times. We forget how far we’ve come in just 100 years … someone with these challenges would have been left to nature’s way.”
“Yes, and we’ve been put in the position of having to make these God-like decisions for others that shouldn’t be in our hands. Again, I’ve never been in this position to have to make that decision, so I’m sure it’s easier for us to say this right now.”
“Yeah, I thought about it — put myself in her shoes, what if it was YOU in that hospital? Geez, I don’t know, I’d be wiggin’ out!”
But, we both agreed that that would NOT be living.
Serendipity shone while I was up in the mountains last week, by leading me to the book, “Loving and Leaving the Good Life” by Helen Nearing. It was a memoir of hers and her husband, Scott Nearing’s, life as homesteaders. He lived to be 100 years old — the gist of the “Leaving” part of the title.
But she described it so clearly: Scott felt that if he could not be of any use any more (he was a lecturer on social justice, economics and the human condition, socialism, etc., as well as homesteader and husband), his time on this plane was over. His body was failing and he was tired. In his own way he would let go his physical bonds and move on.
I understand when you’re in the throes of losing a loved one, the last thing you may want to commit to reading (in between running an hour to the care facility, working, taking cats to the vet, getting the house fixed for the landlord’s review, and all) is a book about “letting go peacefully.”
Although it is possibly the most important thing.
However, I realize there are so many more facets here, personality and behavior aspects, that are far removed from people living off the land, understanding that characteristic of our existence here most intimately — I only wish she could understand that, too.
“You know, this man just stopped eating when he was through. It was graceful and peaceful…”
“I know … but, one more week .…”