Death’s Waiting Room

My mother is 81. She won’t make it to 82. She has cancer. The hospice she went to last Thursday is a lovely place—thoughtfully laid out on a single floor with three wings so that each private room has an outside window with a view of the Florida sunshine (on most days). The staff is professional, helpful to visitors and attentive to the patients. Sometimes the nurses become emotionally attached to them. I saw one break down and cry outside a patient’s room yesterday, but after a short break, she was back at work tending to needs of others who have not yet succumbed to the inevitable. I told her later that I could not do what she does. She said she tries to focus on that fact that she can offer some relief from discomfort and pain, but that yes, sometimes it’s hard to maintain the detachment necessary to go on. There are times when her nurse persona is trumped by her more basic human one. She’s been there eight years, watching the patients come in, getting to know them a little, and helping as much as she can for their brief stay because, despite the warm atmosphere, this is Death’s waiting room. It’s a depressing place.

No, I couldn’t do it.

I’ll be going back there in a little while. Between the morphine and the disease, I’m not sure how much my mom is aware of, but there are brief moments when she opens her eyes in a face that has transformed from the beautiful and active woman she once was to something more like a desiccated E.T., and she smiles. She’s still in there behind the pain and the drugs. All I can do is wait with her.

About Dave

A reader and writer of speculative fiction. See my website for more information on me and my writing.

Posted on May 10, 2014, in Speculative Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. My mom died this morning at just before 2:00 AM. My dad and I were with her at the time. I’d like to believe she knew this and that somehow it helped.

  2. I’m so sorry. My mother died in December. This is my first Mother’s Day without her. If you’re by your mom’s side, she’ll know and you’ll have one more moment with her.

  3. My condolences. We are watching my Grandma go through the same process right now. Peace for you and your loved ones.

  4. I’m sorry mate, I absolutely get where you’re coming from. The helplessness, the sadness… the limbo. I’m doing the same thing, in a different way, right now, myself.

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