The Process of Dying
Its awkward. Everyone tries to talk about happy things, but it feels disrespectful. Tries to talk about normal things, instead, at least. Feeble. Feeble conversation punctuated by feeble breathing from the bed in the corner. Inevitably, silence. There needs to be something on which everyone can focus their attention. Like in an elevator, everyone avidly monitoring the floor changes on the screen in the corner, as if it might not go in order. “Oh wow! We’re skipping floor 8!” But of course it doesn’t. Here, everyone focuses on her. And her irregular breathing. I wouldn’t like it if I were her, everyone staring, watching me die. But she doesn’t know, doesn’t realize…which makes it both better, and worse.
Occasionally, sporadically, tears. I look away, ashamed, embarrassed, intrusive. it feels indecent. Like I’ve seen something I shouldn’t. Especially when it’s my mother’s eyes.
The pastor comes. He’s used to this scene, I guess. Doesn’t speak in hushed tones, which makes his voice jarring. loud. Makes jokes. People are taken aback at first, don’t remember how to laugh. But he’s funny. People are relieved a little, even laugh a little. It feels more normal. I’m impressed, grateful. Guilty. Then, then, he calls me “kiddo”. I don’t like him anymore, go away, intruder. You don’t know us. You don’t know her.
The nurse says she needs a pillow. Everyone scrambles to find one, it becomes a spectacle, my aunt is looking under my brother. I think they are just glad for something to do, so even after my uncle finds one, they keep looking anyways. They aren’t looking for pillows anymore. Control, maybe. Distraction, definitely.
It’s my birthday tomorrow. I don’t think anyone will remember. I wouldn’t remind them, of course. But I can’t escape the irony of celebrating life so soon after being in this room. I always hate my birthday anyways. I’m afraid of getting old.
Rest in peace, Elverda Emmer. I love you, Grandma. See you soon. 11.25.2011