I’ve told a few people what happened that last night, but I haven’t been able to share it here. I’m not sure I can do it now because it seems so personal. What I can say is that David and I were with MoC all night. He held her hand and I rubbed her feet, which is what I always did because they were so cute. If MoC was vain, it was about her feet. My sisters were in touch all night as well, though they were unable to make it back in time.
The Wednesday before she passed away, she had a pretty decent day. She was talkative and alert, but she didn’t want to eat. I ordered a meal for her and the guy suggested a brownie. I said, “That’s fantastic. I won’t even tell her. It will be a surprise.” He suggested ice cream with it and I said, “Perfect!” She wanted to know what the surprise was, but I wouldn’t tell her.
My heart dropped, but I said, “Stop talking shit.”
Then she looked right at me and said, “I’m not talking shit. I don’t have much time.”
This is the part I’ve only told one other person. She said, “I’m scared. I don’t want to die.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. I think I told her I’d be there, I’m not sure. The rest of it is a blur. Was she afraid of what comes after death? Or was she afraid of the way she was going to die, not being able to breathe? I will never know. I wish I had asked.
Friday afternoon the hospice people showed up. MoC was transferred back to “the home” and that’s when she started racing down the hill. She ate two bites of dinner. She talked to me for a few minutes, then she fell asleep. She never woke up.
The nursing home called me at 10pm and I called David and we went back and stayed with her for the next 5 hours.
About 3am, David went outside to smoke and I went to the hall, where we had banished the hospice nurse. I talked to her for a few minutes. She was new, still in training, and I asked her why she wanted to do that job. She told me she had worked in nursing homes before and always seemed to be around at that time and she thought maybe it was what she was supposed to do with her life. She seemed so young to me and so sincere that I couldn’t even make a smartass remark.
I went back in the room and David came back a few minutes later. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember I looked at MoC and …
I told David I thought she was gone. I waved the nurse in. She looked for a pulse. She checked for a heartbeat with her stethoscope. Then she looked up and said, very seriously, “I’m going to need a second opinion.”
I cracked up laughing. David looked horrified for a second, then he laughed.
And somewhere out there, MoC is laughing, too.