I’m not comfortable dealing with old or sick people. To this day, I am still racked with guilt that I did not have it in my heart to bath my gran when she was still alive. Instead, I made tea.
So while my sister bathed my gran, even to the point of giving her a pedi, I knew that once she was done, I would sit at the kitchen table with tea and Marie Biscuits, listening to her talk for hours. It’s the least I could do…
On Saturday, my sister and I went to visit a close friend of the family who has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Having “survived” lung cancer, she has now been told by her doctor to ‘get her affairs in order’ and consider moving into a frail care facility.
Not having seen her for many years, it was wonderful that as we walked through the door to her room in the hospital that she recognised us and was so happy to see us. Within a few minutes, we were chatting about work, life, reminiscing about the good old times and joking about the doctors.
As it always does, the conversation gets to those awkward silences. I was strangely nervous, uncomfortable. I had so many questions but kept quiet.
I’m just going to say what I was thinking…
How do you ask someone who’s dying how long they’ve got? Do you even bring something like that up in conversation? Do you ask such questions? And then what do you say? Is it my place to ask?
I have an analytical mind. I like to work things out, make sense of things, plan ahead, knowing what we’re in for. But without the facts, I hate sitting around in total darkness, not knowing what to do.
So we chatted and chatted (actually, it was my sister that did most of it) and we laughed, even making jokes about her tumour. And eventually we left.
I have no idea when I will see her again or if this will be the last time that I do?
It feels like I should be doing something. But do what? And if I haven’t made an effort for so long, would it appear false?
Do I just walk away now and wait? That sounds terrible. Heartless…
I feel so helpless. It feels as if I have so many unanswered questions.
It’s so much easier to make tea.