As I woke up this morning, I kept picturing a doctor in a white coat solemnly flipping off a utilitarian, perhaps red ventilator switch as we all stood weeping around my mother-in-law. The beep, beep, beeping of the monitor would speed up and gradually become one long, solid beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep signaling the finality of the ordeal. I guess I’ve watched too many movies and ER reruns.
The old hymn that my granny used to play… “Softly and Tenderly” crept into my subconscious and out of my mouth as I stirred creamer into my coffee.
“Earnestly, tenderly….waiting and watching…..calling oh, sinner come home.”
Staring out the kitchen window, I sighed “she’s coming home today, Lord.”
My mother-in-law, Susi Weight, has been sick with a variety of worsening health problems that have given her infections and chronic pain in exchange for her independence. Just a few years ago, she was a bubbly, chatty (REALLY CHATTY, like non-stop chatty) bridge playing, travelling, volunteering, happy-go-lucky grandma.
A colon tear, non-working kidneys and a defunct liver led to an impromptu family reunion in the intensive care unit of Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek, CA. In spite of the medical staff doing all that they could, Susi’s upper-management organs were closing up shop and taking spontaneous retirement.
The ventilator was doing a great job of breathing for her. But that was the problem. Dr Mayou, a young version of Jackie Chan who was just a tad too upbeat, broke the news that Susi had a 95-percent chance of not being discharged from the hospital alive. I wanted to ask him to “show his work” like in grade school. But it was clear that the vivacious Susi was no longer there, her boisterous laugh replaced by consistent, mechanical inhales and exhales.
My husband James and his siblings, Larry and Penny, had to make the unthinkable decision for which no one wants to be responsible.